By RUSSELL JONES
Four years ago, Dick Williams began his tenure as the Otter Valley boys’ soccer coach with an almost blank slate. He worked to develop his players and over the years it started to show some success.
Today, after two strong classes graduated, he’s nearly back where he started.
“After graduating two fairly strong classes over the last two years, we’re somewhat starting over,” Williams said. “This team is young, it’s a whole new group.”
This year’s team consists of only two seniors but they have five juniors, seven sophomores and six freshmen. Williams said it was a strong sophomore class that should see plenty of playing time this season.
“We did have a short JV schedule last season,” he said. “And you can see how much that helped last year’s freshmen and got them ready to play varsity level.”
His plan for the early part of the season is to work on fundamentals and get his team playing together.
“We’re not interested in kick and run,” Williams said. “We’re going to try to pass and work with teammates and we’ll build off of that.”
The Otters will have new faces at many key positions.
“We have a new keeper (freshmen Benjamin Adams) and that’s a fresh new start there,” the coach said. “Some changes in the schedule will give us looks at teams we haven’t seen in a while.”
Despite being young, Williams said many of those newer players have good technical skills and they are essentially raw clay that can be molded over the next few years. The goal this year is to build a good foundation on which to improve in the coming years.
“Ideally, we would host a playoff game and at least advance to the second round of the playoffs,” he said, something the Otters have not done in his four years there. “We do not have an easy schedule, but I think there’s some opportunity there.”