Cyclones head boys soccer coach Rex Harriman has built a powerhouse program at Pueblo West High School.
And he knows it.
The knowledge of West’s status as a perennial player for a Colorado state title is evident in every workout, every drill and every one-on-one instruction session that the 16-year coaching vet shares with his players.
West’s winning culture is one of the reasons that last year’s squad equaled a school record with a 13-win season, advancing to the final 16 in the state playoffs. West’s state playoff appearance last year was its ninth straight, dating back to 2005.
It’s also evident as far at the Colorado State Activities Association is concerned, as West is starting this season ranked 10th in the CHSAA preseason rankings.
But Harriman is all about coaching cliches, and he’s quick to point out that preseason adoration is something that his Cyclones squad doesn’t care much about.
“I saw [the ranking] and the first thing I thought was ‘good, they remembered we had a pretty good team last year,’” Harriman said. “But this is a whole new team.”
But he has all the reason in the world to be leery of any ranking. West enters the 2014 campaign still waiting to get over the hump of the second round in the 4A state playoffs - something a Pueblo team has only done once - and he has scheduled a bit of a gauntlet for the Cyclones.
With the South Central League being reduced this year to only the six Pueblo schools as well as each school agreeing to play each other just once in league play, West has been free to test itself against the state’s best.
The Cyclones will take on defending state champ Cheyenne Mountain, preseason number-two Air Academy, and two other teams that received votes to appear in the preseason top ten, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge.
And that’s just in the first month of the season.
“When I first became coach, we had one non-league game,” Harriman said. “But I keep telling these guys
if we even limp into the playoffs at 8-7, I don’t care where they put us because we’ll be ready to play.”
Despite the uphill battle that West faces during the first month of the season, Harriman said he feels the team is equipped to handle it.
It’s first weapon is senior Jaydon Moreschini, who came off a 2013 where he led the state in goals and points with an unbelievable stat line: 27 goals, seven assists and 61 points. A first-team all-state selection last year, he is one of the most highly-recruited prep soccer student-athletes in the state and will be relied upon to put the ball in the net again this year.
“With Jaydon, it’s almost like a video game,” Harriman said. “I give him some ideas of what I’d like him to do and he goes out and does it. The desire he has to score goals is phenomenal.”
Sophomore Mike Peters returns this year after a superb freshman season where he scored eight goals along with four assists. His 20 points was second on the squad to only Moreschini, and Harriman said Peters and Moreschini are cut from the same cloth.
“We haven’t even tapped his potential yet,” Harriman said of Peters. “He knows the game, and with he and Jaydon working together, there’s something that just sparks them.”
One of the team’s main hurdles is to overcome the loss of eight players from its varsity squad, including six starters. Overcoming that, though, is a challenge that the team is up for since the maturation of junior varsity level players over the summer has been stark, Harriman said, and two impact freshmen are expected to shake up varsity right away.
One of those key freshman is Dylan Stanley, son of longtime CSU-Pueblo soccer coach, Roy Stanley. Stanley is expected to be one of the key forwards setting up scoring chances for Moreschini and Peters.
“Dylan is very skilled and once he gets used to the way we play, coming in as a freshman, he’s going to be dangerous.”
Last season, the Cyclones were a team faced with dealing with a lot of losses on paper. All it did was set a school record for wins. This year, the Cyclones are dealing with less losses, bring back the state’s top goal scorer, a solid junior goalkeeper in Trevor Emond, and a verifiable goal factory up front.
Needless to say, hopes are high.
“We have a lot of nose to the grindstone kids that work hard,” Harriman said. “Everybody battles and they really want to go far.”
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