Jimtown to open initial season

Northridge’s Cam Chappell, here getting ready to score in the Class 3A sectional last fall, returns to lead a strong Raiders team in 2019.

At one school, wins and losses won’t be critically important this boys soccer season.

Because this fall there’s just the excitement that boys soccer will make its debut at Jimtown High School.

The boys follow the girls program, which began competition in 2018.

The Jimmies won’t face a Northern Indiana Conference schedule until next year.

Jimtown first-ever match will be August 20th at South Bend Washington.

Coaching the boys will be Briant Estrella, who brings plenty of soccer experience with him.

Estrella played soccer at Holy Cross College and has coaching experience with the Michiana Echo travel team. He’ll also be an assistant men’s soccer coach this fall at Ancilla College.

“My expectation this year is to develop these young players into good role models inside and outside of the soccer field,” said Estrella. “I also want to help them develop as soccer players. I want my players to just do the best that they can. Results will come if you have that kind of attitude.”

Among the players getting their first taste of varsity soccer will be Isaac Daniels, Dylan Dudeck, Alex Cuevas, Manuel Cuevas and Maycol Sanches.   

Defending Northern Lakes Conference and sectional champion Northridge should once again be one of the top local teams.

The Raiders return junior Cam Chappell, senior Brody Gust and junior Carter Stoltzfus, who were all-conference selections a year ago. Chappell scored 16 goals and had 11 assists last year. Gust added two goals and nine assists, while Stoltzfus totaled two goals and five assists.

“We’ll try to keep the ball rolling after having a successful season last year,” said Northridge coach Lawrence Baltazar. “We’ll lean on the experience of seniors Tanner Sallee, Jacob Miller and Cameron Graber to lead the defense.

“Offensively, we have some huge shoes to fill with the loss of first team All-State selection Micah Cross (22 goals, 30 assists) and second team all-state selection Johnny Mora (21 goals, 13 assists). It won’t be easy to replace them, but I’m confident in the offensive players. Chappell is emerging as one of the more dominant goal scorers in our district. Gust has great vision and creativity and should create chances for us in the offensive third. Also, we hope to strengthen our offensive production this season by moving Carter Stoltzfus from the back line. We also have several other players who have made jumps from last year, including Drew Collins and Tanner Sallee.”  

Northridge, which finished with a 19-2-1 record overall and a 6-0-1 NLC mark, lost to eventual state champion Chesterton, 4-3, in a Class 3A regional final last year. 

“The NLC is once again loaded with talent and our sectional is easily the toughest in the state,” Baltazar said. 

“To be competitive we’ll have to come together as a team and play hard for each other every single game. Our goal is simple. We want to leave it all out there on the field every time out. If we can do that we’ll live with the results.” 

Goshen, which finished 11-4-3, should also be among the top teams in the NLC. 

Returning letterwinners are seniors Kevin Cruz, Max Flores, Nehemias Gallegos, Cruz Garcia, Chris Lozano and Alex Munn and juniors Ricardo Garcia, Jafet Gonzalez, Fernando Quevedo, Diego Romo and Cesar Valdez. 

“Our goal as a team is to go and compete for the NLC title and win the sectional,” said Goshen coach Viratham Mounsithiraj.

Junior Andrew Argueta and sophomore Bryan Guerrero head the list of returning letterwinners from an Elkhart Memorial squad, which finished 11-5-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the NLC. The Crimson Chargers lost to Northridge, 1-0 in double overtime, in a Class 3A sectional final.

“The team has a positive attitude and gives good effort,” said Memorial coach Todd Sheely. “If we can keep that up we’ll be competitive in our games this season.”

Senior Ariel DeLaPaz is back at Concord after scoring 11 goals and totaling six assists last year and also providing experience will be seniors Eric Reyes, Tyler Binkley, Caleb Repaich and junior Eusabio Espinoza.

“We’re very young and have a great deal of work to do, as we try to get better throughout the season,” said Concord coach Shawn McCuen, whose team finished 8-6-3 last fall. “The men are working extremely hard and trying to understand the system we’re playing.”

With plenty of returning talent, NorthWood is anxious to get the season underway. 

“We’re excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a boys program this fall,” said NorthWood coach Brad Duerksen. “This is definitely one of the most talented teams we’ve fielded at NorthWood High School. I’ve been impressed with the players’ soccer IQ throughout the summer and their development from last season.”

Back for the Panthers are top two goal scorers Sebastian Guillen (14 goals) and Jerson Sanchez (8), along with assist leader Andre DeFreitas (8).  

In the Northern Indiana Conference, Penn finished strong after a rough start. The Kingsmen went 6-1-2 over their final nine matches with that lone loss coming to Chesterton, 3-2 in two overtimes, in a regional semifinal contest. 

Penn returns 11 players from last year, including seven seniors. Second-year coach Kyle Zaber is happy to have on the team Avery Richardson, who took a year off from soccer, and foreign exchange student Pedro Ignacio. 

“I’m very excited for the season to begin,” said Zaber. “I have tremendous leadership and drive from my senior class, with excellent support from the juniors and sophomores. The players have worked extremely hard this summer preparing for the next three months. 

“The coaching staff is working hard to ensure we can provide them the knowledge and guidance needed to remain focused and determined through a long and challenging season.

“Thus far, the boys are excited to accept each challenge presented to them and they have made me proud by coming together to put in the work required to make a run for state.”

Staying healthy would be good news for Elkhart Central, which finished 6-11. 

“I expect us to be much better than we were last year, assuming that we don’t suffer the same multiple devastating injuries that we had last year,” said Blue Blazers coach Sherwin Simon.  “I also think it’s going to serve us better as a team to have freshmen last year be one year older.”

One of the players back from injury is senior Bryan Ramirez, who played only two games last season. He was an honorable mention all-state selection as a sophomore.

“I’m expecting big things from him,” Simon said.   

Bethany Christian suffered a big loss with the graduation of Cedric Brenneman, who is playing soccer at Grace College. As a senior, Brenneman set single-season school records for goals (41) and points (86). He finished with 67 career goals, which left him seven short of the school-record. 

Brenneman helped the Bruins win two straight sectional titles and a Northern Indiana Soccer Conference title last year.

Shouldering a bigger load this year with Brenneman’s departure are sophomore Alann Torres (11 goals, 16 assists) and senior Omar Gonzalez (2 goals, 7 assists).

“We hope to take the next step in the IHSAA tournament,” said Bethany Christian coach Hank Willems. “Our schedule is very hard with 12 teams that were ranked last year.”

Elkhart Christian welcomes the return of first team all-NISC player Jacob Becker, who’s only a sophomore. Becker totaled eight goals and two assists during his first varsity season. Making passes to Becker will be senior David Schramm, who had six assists a year ago. 

“I’m excited to see the hard work that our boys put in during the offseason pay off this year,” said ECA coach Jeremy Hiler. 

“Although our senior class is small, Schramm and Sam Irick have done a nice job leading the team through the offseason and preseason. We have a nice freshman class coming and I think that Schramm may add to his assist total from last year.”

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