Defense provides safe ground for Red Wolves football – Loveland Reporter-Herald

There’s a beauty and a sense of open possibility when you look at a football pitch – but if a team isn’t ready, it’s just a nice setting for things to go wrong.

That threatened to be the fate of the men’s team at Loveland High School a season ago, with a freshman goaltender and a group of sophomores tasked with providing defensive support. Learning the ropes in real time could have left the Red Wolves dry, but the team soon caught on and found themselves with a solid 6-8-1 record, allowing just 10 goals in their last six games.

Today’s defense is a source of reliability, and a valued source, with a new head coach (Tyler Rice) to watch and a tough Class 5A schedule looming on the horizon.

“Towards the end of the season, the whole defense started learning how each other was playing…we knew who could walk to the ball, who would stay back and wait for a run,” junior Dean Patella said. “It really helped us. It was a lot of pressure at times, but knowing that a lot of the players were older and had more experience…they thought they had just beaten me, and when we stopped them it was more encouraging and more motivating.

Loveland High Head Boys soccer coach Tyler Rice talks to players during a recent practice. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

As the sophs soaked up the experience, first-year guard Nathan Bowman held firm and showed instinctive command of the task. One of the trickiest things about being a keeper is figuring out when to attack a run and go for the ball before things get dark, and when to hang back and see if the defense can defuse. Call it a calculation test in shorts and cleats.

“During training you go right after and figure out what’s comfortable for you, and over time I’ve learned to (assess) the forward’s speed,” Bowman said. “If he’s really quick, maybe he’s not going to get them all. The whole thing took time, and I didn’t have contact lenses like I have now. It took a lot of practice, and it’s also a hunch. You have to commit instantly, and I’m more comfortable with that now.

“Nathan did very well as a first-year goaltender; it was a lot of pressure, getting into high school and immediately going back to college,” Patella added. “He dealt with the situation, improved throughout the season and is even better now. It helped him, being against the players who were going to take the best shots.

Loveland will complement his young but confident defense with a fast-paced attacking line-up, paced by junior forwards Alex Montoya and Parker Redmond, the latter of the three captains. Fellow captains Caleb Hall and Alex Herrera are senior midfielders, and the roster has fresh blood in senior defender Rigby Salzer, released for football for the first time after running cross-country in previous years.

Unfortunately for the Red Wolves, one of the mainstays of this young defence, Ethan Padgett, is recovering from ACL surgery – only an extremely optimistic view would put him healthy in time to help later this fall. But new head coach Rice is keeping morale low and training demanding as his side prepare for the 2022 campaign.

“This group wants to work hard and stay positive. Our philosophy will be to go out and play hard every game, have fun and play as a team,” said Rice, who has played collegially and brings a lot of know-how from his practice days to the programs. regional clubs. “I knew a few of the boys before I arrived, and we’re also lucky to have two freshmen who will be starting college. I want them to have fun – maybe they’ll get better at football, maybe not, but they can understand that if you work hard and focus good things can happen.

The Red Wolves kick off their season on September 6 against Mountain View.

Burgdorf Spartans

Coach: Dylan Owens (first season)

Last season: 4-11

Key returners, transfers or freshmen: Casey Gustafson (MF; Sr.), Kaleb Johnson (F; Sr.), Jackson Riffell (D; Sr.), Corbin Hymel (F, Fr.)

Coach’s outlook: “The boys have bought in and are ready to fight. We will improve on last year’s successes, with a new philosophy and a new style.

Loveland Classic Lions

Coach: Matthew McIntyre (Fourth season)

Last season: 10-5 (conference 5-0)

Key returners, transfers or freshmen: Jaithan Peterson (F; Sr.), Zachary McIntyre (D; Sr.), Jackson Jensen (F; So.), Toby McIntyre (MF; Jr.), Logan Fischer (GK ; Jr. ), Caed Slinkard (D; So.), Grant Slinkard (D; So.)

Coach’s outlook: “We have a lot of talent in every key area this year. But, more importantly, we have a cohesive group of guys who are ready to work hard. They are an absolutely formidable group of young men on and off the pitch. I’m proud of them and can’t wait to see what they’ll achieve this season.

Mountain lions with mountain view

Coach: Ismael Gallardo (third season)

Last season: 1-9

Key returners, transfers or freshmen: Ryan Connolly (MF/F; Sr.), Ashton Gilbert (MF/F; Sr.), Jacob Berg (HB/DF; Jr.), Alex Lamar (HB/DF; Jr.)

The coach’s view: “We are still a very young team, with two seniors and three juniors. We are working hard to make this team very successful.

Thompson Valley Eagles

Coach: Chase Hammen (13th season)

Last season: 9-7, made Class 4A playoffs

Key returners: Owen Hallagan (GK; Jr.), Alec Oberhammer (DEF; Jr.), Isaiah Wiesner (F; Jr.), Owen Fletcher (MF; Jr.), Eli Metzger (D; So.), Luc Gow (MF; So.)

Coach’s Perspective: “With so many new varsity athletes joining the varsity ranks this season, it’s great to have a strong core of starters returning from last season’s playoff team. Owen Hallagan will be responsible for leading this team as goalkeeper. Isaiah Wiesner will take control of our attack and help our team find the back of the net. Luc and Owen Fletcher will need to control midfield allowing a newly revamped defense to gain a foothold led by Alec and Eli.

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