Fresh off one of the best boys soccer seasons in years, head coach Joel Gerlach is busy planning for next season.
At the top of his list is how he’ll replace 90 percent of his starting lineup and the overwhelming majority of his scorers. One thing he can cross off is retention of his coaching staff, which will again include Emerson “Skip” Robbins. “Skip” will stay true to his nickname and be a co-head coach with Gerlach on the varsity team after two seasons leading the junior varsity squad to an insane 24-1 record.
There’s a dependent clause, however. He’ll only join Gerlach on varsity if they find a quality junior varsity coach to keep the feeder program thriving.
“We’d pretty much share duties equally,” Gerlach said.
“It’s hard when you’re one coach with 16 kids. All training skills aren’t universal.”
Their division of labor won’t necessarily fall between offense and defense. Robbins helped install the Falcons’ new defensive scheme, a flatback-four formation that allowed 34 goals this season. Gerlach shaped the Falcons’ offense into its down-the-sidelines style that relied on speedy forwards and quick touches to the tune of 43 goals.
Compared to Cascade Conference rivals, South Whidbey’s offense produced the third-most goals behind Archbishop Murphy’s 75 and Cedarcrest’s 56. Its defense, however, allowed the fourth most in the eight-team conference.
Shoring up the defense will be a priority, as will replacing the offensive firepower vacuum left by graduating seniors Stephen Lyons, Sam Turpin, Darby Hayes and Guy Sparkman. Defensively, the Falcons lose keeper Andrew Holt, Cameron Coupe, Connor McCauley and River Ellis.
Ideally, the Falcons’ junior varsity program is built to plug-and-play its younger athletes into the varsity lineup. The JV squad ran the same practices and drills as varsity, with a little variation for tweaking here and there. That had Gerlach and Robbins excited for the 2014 season.
“We have the opportunity to be as good or better (than the 2013 team),” Gerlach said.