Falcon kickers seek to re-establish themselves

Sophomores Josh Helpenstell, left, and Ben Walker run through drills on Wednesday as part of a week of tryouts and workouts with the Falcon boys soccer team. - Jennifer Conway
Sophomores Josh Helpenstell, left, and Ben Walker run through drills on Wednesday as part of a week of tryouts and workouts with the Falcon boys soccer team.
— image credit: Jennifer Conway

After an intense week of tryouts last week, the South Whidbey High School boys soccer team is already preparing for state championships.

It's never too early to start planning, the team's head coach, Fran Einterz, reminded the boys Wednesday.

"On your toes, on your toes," Einterz yelled while the boys ran drills. "Is this the way state champions look?"

While it might seem a bit optimistic for a coach to be making predictions on making it to state -- especially a new coach -- Einterz doesn't see any reason why it shouldn't happen.

"If we don't go to the state competition, it's an indication that I'm a poor coach," said Einterz.

Taking over for longtime Falcon coach Mark Helpenstell, Einterz is almost as wet behind the ears as his varsity squad. Nine varsity players graduated off the team last year.

But several of the players have the experience and ability to be the core of a great team.

"If we work hard, there's no reason why we shouldn't make it to state," he said.

If they do, they will be re-establishing the team as one of the best in the state. In 2000, the Falcons placed second at the state tournament. Last year's 7-10 season was the worst record the team has had since then, so team members and their new coach are ready for a better year in 2003.

Expected to lead offense this year is senior Adam Jaffe. Running the defense will be seniors Abe Smith-Groening and Jasper Hein and junior Roy Ishii, who will be joined by sophomore defender Kevin Dunagan.

Senior Tyler Nettleback is excited for the upcoming season. He said the team's experienced players and good leadership would contribute to a great season.

"I think we're gonna do awesome," he said.

Einterz said the biggest strength of the high school soccer program is the solid core of boys who have been playing soccer for most of their lives. He credits youth soccer programs for creating a vast pool of talent.

"An established youth program is now coming up into the high school level," Einterz said. "We definitely have a lot of talent on the team."

Einterz says the only weakness he foresees for the boys is not having enough strikers.

"You can never have too many strikers," Einterz said. "I would like another striker or two."

Teams to watch out for this year in the North Cascades Conference, according to Einterz, are Lynden Christian and Sultan. Sultan won the league last year.

The Falcons are scheduled to play those two teams first in their game lineup.

Einterz said South Whidbey will be able to gauge how high the bar is after the first two games. A former Oak Harbor High School coach, he said he wasn't familiar yet with the competition for schools in the 2A league.

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