Note: This article includes schools in the writer’s area of coverage, which is as follows: from Fountain Hills west through Scottsdale, all of Phoenix (except for Ahwatukee), the southwest, northwest and north sections of the metro area. Other locales include northern, northeast and northwest Arizona.
It is difficult to argue with success, and in the case of the boys’ soccer team from Lakeside Blue Ridge, it again will be a challenge to wrest the 2013 Division IV fall season championship from the Yellowjackets.
Blue Ridge has won four straight state titles, two with unbeaten seasons, and has a 63-1-2 record over the last three seasons, according to coach Bryon Crain.
This year’s team will have a large contingent of seniors, including Clayton Crain, Forrest Longenbaugh, Ezequial Esparza, Humberto Banuelos, Tyler Beddo, Jack Meyer, Tanner Bonebreak and Luis Soto.
Clayton Crain had 12 goals and 22 assist last season, when Blue Ridge defeated Tucson Desert Christian 2-0 for the state title.
Longenbaugh will be looking to have a breakout season, according to the coach. Esparza “is the fastest player we’ve had in a few years,’’ Bryon Crain said. Banuelos perhaps is the team’s most versatile player.
Beddo, Meyer and Bonebreak are crucial elements to the team’s defense, and Soto hopes that momentum from a great series of playoff efforts in goal will carry over.
Key juniors will be Andrew Gomez, Pepe Nava and Jonah Brosemann. Sophomore Alejandro Marquez appears to be a star on the rise.
“We are looking forward to a fun, competitive season,’’ Bryon Crain said.
Other strong teams from the north and the Valley are Chino Valley, Payson, Phoenix Country Day School, Snowflake, Show Low, Round Valley and Camp Verde.
The Blue Ridge girls also have a chance to repeat after defeating Desert Christian 4-2 for the crown.
Coached by Rhonda Rydberg, the team will be tested early in the season while competing in the Show Low tournament.
Show Low, the sixth seed last season, will have a young team and a new coach, Chris Ellis.
More top teams from the north: Round Valley, River Valley, Snowflake, Camp Verde and St. Johns.