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MOUNT WASHINGTON - One thing is for sure for the Bullitt East Chargers as they prepare to start the 2009 soccer season.
Without a doubt, this will be the oldest team that the program has ever put on the field. Veteran head coach Mike Brangers has 12 seniors on the roster at this point and that number could technically move as high as 15 when the foreign exchange students become eligible soon.
In fact, the Bullitt East varsity roster has only the 12 seniors and four juniors.
The question that still needs to be answered is the big one - can this be the best Bullitt East soccer team yet?
The Chargers posted a 12-5-1 record a year ago, but lost in the semi-finals of the Ninth District Tournament after reaching the title game the two previous seasons and advancing to the regional tournament. This year, Bullitt East will host the Ninth District Tournament in mid-October, an event they have never won.
“The ultimate goal is a district championship,” Brangers said on Friday. “We’ll host it here. That’s our goal is to win it. I know Bethlehem has a new coach, but is ranked in the top-25 and Nelson County is just outside the top-25.”
Bullitt East will not play John Hardin this season, but they will play host to North Hardin on Tuesday of this week and will also battle Elizabethtown, a top-10 team, on Sept. 1.
A six-team district in the past, the Ninth District could have eight teams this season with the addition of Washington County and LaRue County.
This Bullitt East team is not only older and more mature, but they also have experience.
“We’ve been talking about earning respect,” Brangers said. “Some of our guys have it now, but we don’t have it as a team. We haven’t won one (a district title) so we’re still working on that as a team.
“I want this to be our best team,” the long-time coach said. “I want it with all the seniors. They have had a taste of it with the two district runner-up finishes (as freshmen and sophomores).”
There is experience at most of the key positions, but of course there are still question marks until the foreign exchange students are ruled eligible. At this point, those players have not even been allowed to practice with the team.
The experience starts in goal where senior Caleb Noe will be starting for a third straight season. Almost half of his games over the past two years have been shut-out victories.
He will be backed-up by senior Andrew Hoben who will also see time playing defense.
The Chargers also return both starters in the defensive mid-field slots in seniors Tate McMahan and Noah Francke. Senior Ryan Linton has been starting since his freshman season and will anchor the team in the center midfield position.
Up front, senior Rob Daugherty was second on the team a year ago in scoring behind Davide Fellini, a foreign exchange student. Daugherty scored 15 goals as a junior.
All of the other players have at least some varsity experience. In front of Noe, the defense will include seniors Taylor DeGrella, Alex Emberton and Daniel Koetter. Linton will get help in the middle of the field from senior Cody Hutchins and senior Duell Davis while depth will come from senior Tyler Kramer and junior Brent Pierce. Another senior, David Hagan, will help in the midfield, but he has been slowed with an injury this summer.
At the forward spot, junior Jordan Garcia will play alongside Daugherty and Brangers thinks that the foreign exchange students will help up front.
One change in the program is that Larry Steinmetz has returned as an assistant coach. He worked as the assistant under former head coach Rashid Derricks before Brangers took the post when Steinmetz became the Bullitt East baseball coach.