HEBRON ESTATES - The 2010 soccer season was a break-out campaign for the North Bullitt Eagles.
The green and gold didn’t post a winning record at 8-12-1, but by just about any other scale the team posted a strong season. After starting 0-5, the Eagles posted a winning record over the last two months of the season. North Bullitt also beat Bullitt East for the first time ever and eventually won a Ninth District play-off game before finally being sidelined by Nelson County.
With 19 of those players returning this season, 11 of them seniors, expectations abound for the Eagles.
What has changed is at the top of the program. Chris Bass, a former North Bullitt player, is now heading up the Eagles after Scott Mays stepped down after one year at the helm.
Bass was the assistant to Mays last season and he didn’t have to think long about stepping up when the opening happened back in the spring.
“I knew I wanted it,” Bass said after the team practiced earlier this week. “I have a history with the team.”
Bass has added Lindsey Sardini as his assistant coach.
“As far as the coaching game, it has been about what I expected,” Bass noted. “The paperwork has been more than I expected. That’s just the way it goes.”
Bass was already working with the team on conditioning when he was promoted to the head coaching position so the transition was relatively smooth. It helped that the team has 15 seniors on the 28-man roster.
The turnaround last season was based on one thing - confidence.
“We started slowly last season, but then started to gain confidence,” Bass recalled. “The biggest thing was that they had been having losing record. They didn’t have the winning mentality. After five or six games, it kicked in.
“We have 15 seniors now so it should carry over,” the first-year coach said of that confidence. “That should be a huge help to us.”
In a scrimmage over the weekend, North Bullitt got the best of Shelby County 4-2.
“In the first scrimmage we saw a lot that we have to work on,” the coach said. “But we looked better than we did at this point last year. That’s a plus.”
A year ago, the Eagles spent a lot of time on fundamentals in practice and used a very basic offense. Now with the added year of experience, Bass has shifted to a 4-5-1 alignment that should help them control the ball more in the middle of the field.
“Last year we had a sweeper and we started at ground zero,” the coach said. “This is the formation we used at Union (College) when I played. I think the five in the middle helps you possess the ball better.”
Starting at the back of the formation will be senior Trevor Lindsey in the goal.
“He did great against Shelby County,” Bass noted. “He only had one mistake and had four or five great saves.”
At this point in the season, Bass is looking to use 15 to 17 players in a game and then tighten up the rotation as the season progresses.
In the line in front of Lindsey, the Eagle defense will include seniors Forrest Miller, Cameron Hall and Josh Ward along with junior Isaac Heines. Also battling for playing time on defense will be seniors Kelby Raymer, Jacob Patterson and Josh Williams.
“It’s great to have depth,” Bass said. “That is something we didn’t have last year.”
In the midfield, Bass is looking for senior Chris Badgett and sophomore Tyler Whitmer to play on the wings while the middle players will be sophomore Kyle Pursley along with seniors Jacob Ward and Derek Schweinhart. The Eagles will also be using seniors Brandon Henderson, Tyler Platacis and Tyler Rose in midfield.
Up front, the forward slot will be filled by either Bob Higgs or Nathan Irvin, who are both seniors. Both will often be on the field with one dropping back to one of the midfield positions.
“I will definitely be subbing in and out, especially in the midfield,” Bass said. “We probably needed to do that more last year. They were beat at the end of games last year.”
Bass and his team will open the season on the road next Tuesday at LaRue County. The team will then be at home on Thursday against Holy Cross before hosting the Bullitt Cup on Saturday, Aug. 20.
North Bullitt will play each of the other teams in the Ninth District once including a regular season game in Mount Washington against Bullitt East on Sept. 22. A date for a game against Bullitt Central has not been finalized as the Cougars work to find enough players to have a team this season.