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WCHS soccer ready to kick it in high gear
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Jake Toney, left, and Ethan Cowan battle for possession during practice Monday.

The WCHS soccer team is looking to kick it to a higher level of competitiveness this season.

Coach Matt Jackson believes this is finally the time for the Pioneers to contend with Cookeville, the team which has for years set the standard in Warren County’s district.

“I fully think we can beat them,” said coach Jackson. “We’ve beat the same group with our travel team when it’s basically the same two teams facing each other. It’ll be a good game, but we know we can win.”

Coach Jackson says the strength of the Pioneers is their talent at every position on the field. He says the key will be finding where players are the best fit.

“We’re solid all around and there are several guys who can play several positions,” said Jackson. “I have to get the starters figured out and then see where everyone fits in.”

It’s an experienced senior class that includes Rob Phillips, Jordan Ruiz, Ethan Cowan, Jax Griffith, Wesley Pepper, and Alex Flores, a newcomer from El Paso, Texas.

“He comes from a very strong team in Texas and he’s been a great addition for us,” said Jackson. “He has aspirations of playing college soccer.”

The junior class has a number of eye-catching players including keeper Josiah Jackson, who is solid in the net and a great communicator when it comes to positioning the defense. Jake Toney and Brayden Chisam are other juniors poised to make meaningful contributions.

Former Pioneer basketball player Irving Espinoza, also a junior, will make his high school debut on the soccer field. He is among the fastest players on the team and still has soccer skills from his days of playing at Pistole Park.

The sophomore class is highlighted by midfielder John Jackson, who is relentless in his pursuit of the ball. Carter Smith is a sophomore who is a rugged defender.

The Pioneers are scheduled to participate in an eight-team playday this Saturday in Manchester. With heavy rain in the forecast, coach Jackson believes the playday will be canceled.

WCHS will open its season March 4 with a road game against St. Andrews Sewanee. The first home game is March 11 against Coffee County.