I visited the Kickapoo Chiefs morning work out on Thursday, opening my efforts to renew acquaintances with the High School game in the region. The Chiefs reached the Final 8 last year, losing to Columbia Hickman 0-1 in the Quarterfinal, while knocking off Glendale in the District Final and Carthage in the Sectional. The Chiefs finished 3rd in the State in 2007 but lost to Glendale late in overtime in 2008 in Districts when the Falcon’s made their run to 2nd in State, the highest level for a boys program from the region.
Looking at 2010 the Chiefs have reason to be confident yet again. Returning 8 starters, adding a senior transfer who will start on defense, Kickapoo will rely on a disciplined defensive team with one key weakness. Who will score?
The Chief’s have four key seniors this year. All will likely start on defense and they will be led by Goalkeeper Tyler Moses. Moses found his mojo during the Kickapoo Shootout last year when his play in the PK win over Blue Springs helped carry the team to the Championship win over Springfield Catholic and ultimately to the Quarterfinals, losing only to Columbia Rockbridge during that four week period.
He’ll be fronted by seniors Nathan Lavoy and new transfer Dylan Corbett, who has been recognized as All-State Honorable Mention the past two years for the New Covenant Warriors. Derrick McDiarmid, a 1st team Regional pick, will bringing his attacking style to the flank.
The junior class represents the top three returning scorers, with Jake Nedoma (8 goals, 1 assist = 17 points), Devon Selsor (7, 3 = 17) and Dane Ruggeri (5, 3 = 13) and the pressure will be significant to increase their production, especially in tight games. A look at the results from the previous two years shows just how important Ian Kennedy and Skyler Russell were in those situations and these three will need to deliver. Selsor will likely slot in at a forward position while Nedoma and Ruggeri attack from outside midfield positions.
They will not be alone. Aaron Strunk came on strong late in the season when given the opportunity to play as a forward, moving up from a central defensive position, showing creativity and a natural attacking style. His goal against Glendale in late October helped position the Chiefs for the win and I anticipate he’ll show well this year. He finished with four goals, 10 overall points last year. The Chiefs will need to replace the 42 goals, 109 total points, that Skyler Russell and Ian Kennedy delivered.
It all starts in the midfield and the Chiefs have a pair of sophomores expected to lead the team. Josh McCutcheon’s efforts in defensive midfield last year allowed Ian Kennedy the opportunity to go forward and lead the attack. This year he’ll pair with Elliot Williams, who moves up from a role player to starter, to run the central midfield. Their maturity and ability to hold the ball while creating opportunities for their teammates will also lay the foundation for the Chiefs success for the next three years.
Hunter Durham, a sophomore, is my pick for the third player to join Corbett and Williams in the starting 11.
The Chiefs open on the road September 3rd, visiting Nixa where the game finished 4-3 last year. Glendale is the opponent in their third game, on September 15th, a game everyone looks forward to. Kickapoo will participate in three tournaments this year, over a three week period beginning with the Gateway City Classic in St. Louis on October 1st. The Kickapoo Shootout runs October 8-9 and the Chiefs will travel to Jefferson City for the Classic October 14-15.