Knights looking ahead to season

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By Nick Schrager

With two scrimmages under their belt, the Marion County Knights are preparing to enter their season with gusto. Coming off of a 16-7 season last year, the Knights will be starting fresh after losing 12 seniors. 

“They were all significant positional players for our team last year,” Knights Coach Greg Conley said. 

Heavy hitting forwards Joey Costello, Dylan Spalding, and sweeper Alex Smith were among those who graduated.

Returning as seniors this year are forward Ozwaldo Cruz, midfielder Curt Spalding, and Ryker Cassidy, who is returning from a two-year hiatus from the team.

Along with the returning seniors, sophomore forward Alan Guzman and junior goalkeeper John May will also be returning to the field. 

“He did an awesome job as sophomore goal keeper last year,” Conley said. “He had to step into big shoes because of the seniors, and now he’s going to be in more of a leadership role and a lot’s going to fall on his shoulders this year because we’re so young.”

Sophomore Dalton Hammon will also be returning this year and will replace Smith as sweeper.

“I think he’ll do fine. There’s some issues he has. He’s not near as tall as Alex, and he’s not as good in the air as Alex,” Conley said, “But he’s only a sophomore.” 

Of all of these players, Conley said anyone has the potential to be a captain this year. 

“This is one of those years where it’s wide open.” Conley said. “I could have a senior that’s a captain. I could have a freshman that’s a captain. We’re going into this as a whole bunch of people that have wide open chances of getting positions, so it could be anybody.”

He said he’s looking forward to coaching the younger team because the coaching staff let the team captains do a lot of leading last year.

With so many new faces, one the Knights’ goals this season is to learn from their mistakes as they progress forward. While they are learning, the Knights have another goal: to make a run in the district tournament. The goal is possible to obtain, Conley said.

Last year, the Knights took the 18th district tournament, but fell to the Nelson County Cardinals, 2-0, in their first round of regionals.

On Aug. 21, the Knights will start their season by moving south to take on the Campbellsville Eagles. Last year, the Knights destroyed the Eagles, 10-0, in their second game of the season. They defeated the Eagles a second time, 3-0, at the start of the 18th district tournament.

From there, the Knights will go on to play the LaRue County Hawks and the John Hardin Bulldogs on Aug. 23 and 28 respectively. 

The Knights defeated the Hawks, 9-1, last year but fell to the Bulldogs by a close margin, 4-3.

Conley said the Knights have several teams to watch out for this season.

“With how young we are, every single team we play this season’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “From Hart County all the way to North Hardin, we’ve got a pretty wide range of teams on our schedule.”