Young Contenders: Bay Port Boys Soccer Preview
By Rich Palzewic, Correspondent
SUAMICO – The Bay Port boys’ soccer team lost a fair amount of seniors, but that doesn’t mean this year’s group won’t be able to contend for a Fox River Classic Conference title and beyond.
With a good new crop of young talent mixed in with some key veterans, the Pirates look to improve on their 5-4 conference record a season ago. Bay Port finished fifth behind perennial FRCC power Green Bay Preble, Sheboygan North, Ashwaubenon and De Pere.
“Last year we were an older team – senior laden with most of them playing,” said head coach Travis Herber. “We graduated a lot of those kids that gave us the opportunity to be competitive, now it’s this year’s senior’s turn to step up and play. We only have about two or three guys (from last year) that rotated off the bench or started, so we practically have a whole new starting lineup. A lot of these guys haven’t played together over the summer either because they play on different clubs, so we will have to work on our chemistry.”
The main player back this season is first-team all-conference player Griffin Pecore, who scored 19 goals and had 8 assists his junior year.
“I’m really excited to see what Griffin and the rest of the guys can do this year,” Herber said. “We are more inexperienced as a team, but I think we will be good. We just have to give everyone opportunities to play. The youth on the team doesn’t worry us, but excites us.”
The team’s most prolific scorer this year could be sophomore Justin Howe, the leading scorer on the JV squad last season.
“Justin certainly could have been on varsity last year as a freshman, but unfortunately we just had too many seniors at his position and he wasn’t going to play a lot,” said Herber. “I’m a coach that will play my upperclassmen unless a younger kid is that much better. As a sophomore, I think with Justin and Griffin, we are going to really see some special things this season.”
Defensively, Herber noted that the Pirates are a “little sketchy right now and that players are learning new positions in search of the best lineup.”
As for the goalie situation, senior Sam McKean is looking at a big year with hopefully some FRCC honors to go along with it.
Look for Preble and De Pere to give Bay Port the most competition, as well as Sheboygan North, but the Golden Raiders lost a fair amount of quality players due to graduation.
“You seem to have those two-three teams that are always near the bottom, but then in the middle anybody can come out of there and take conference,” added Herber. “If you’re not on the top of your game, anybody from seven on up can beat you.”
Other members of the team are seniors Alex Craig, Ethan Bellisle, Jimmy Erickson, Victor Shinkarenko, Xai Thao, Calvin Schilz, Nate Schlueter, Travis Vandeyacht, Andrew Nichols, Zach Meyer and Brett Fuglested; juniors Keegan Rusch, Ken Franks, Nathan Heezen, Tyler Holler, Tai Thao and Noah Stazak; sophomores Cy Schlueter, Cayden Steffel and Jackson O’Connell; and freshman Peyton Nichols.
Key members lost to graduation were first-teamer Sam Wells, second-teamers Sammy Devenport and Will Kendall and honorable-mention selections Zach LaCroix and Brandon Fett.
Note: for a full schedule, visit foxriverclassicconference.com, click on the Bay Port link and then navigate your way to the boys’ soccer schedule… the last time the Pirates won the FRCC title was in 2014… Pecore, Schilz and Schlueter are the captains of the team.