Down nine seniors, boys varsity pushes for success

By Greg Hart

Coach Scott Walker has a young team, with plenty of speed, skill and desire.

Like the girls team, the boys varsity graduated many seniors — in this case nine — from last year’s team while returning only one, co-captain Ryan Williams.

“We have a strong core of juniors and sophomores who took it upon themselves to be ready for the season,” Walker says, noting, “It’s not like I had to tell them. They knew they had to step up and take over.” The coach clearly relishes and demands motivation and effort.

For Walker, mistakes born out of technique and skill can be tolerated; lack of effort – not so much. At a recent practice, Walker was running a drill focused on taking advantage of the team’s speed: offensive wing players making probing runs while the central ball handler passed into space for their teammate to run on to, hopefully resulting in a scoring chance.

Walker routinely praised those grasping the concept by making the run or attempting the pass, even if it missed the mark. However if the ball handler timidly held the ball too long allowing the defender to close in, cut down the passing lane and steal the ball, the coach paused the drill.

Walker would then reemphasize what he was looking for: ball control, yes, but quick aggressive passes into open space utilizing the team’s quickness, exemplified by Jake Cavacas, one of three co-captains, and Chad Leonard and Addison Provance, among others.

While effort is demanded from coach Walker, it is also rewarded. Noting the hard work his team puts in, starting with preseason, two-a-day practices, Walker is adamant that every player will play at some point in every game, whether it’s for 30 minutes or five. “How can I ask these guys to bust their tails every day in preseason, every day in practice, and not have that pay off in at least some playing time?”

One player sure to get plenty of playing time is sophomore goalie Kyle Kemp. With no clear backup, Kemp looks ready to be in the nets for the Chieftains. Asked about Kemp in relation to the departure of standout goalie, his son Jacob Walker, now playing for Keene State, the coach replied, “Did you see him? Kyle looks real good.” Indeed he did, coming off his line smartly, showing good timing and skill. Walker also noted Kemp’s hard work and overall athleticism — on the basketball court and in the baseball diamond as well. “I’d like to have him as a field player, but I need him more in goal,” Walker stated.

How can I ask these guys to bust their tails every day in preseason, every day in practice, and not have that pay off in at least some playing time?

Coach Scott Walker

In front of Kemp on defense, the coach is counting on the experience of junior co-captain Elliot Leonard in the middle with soph Steve Kingsbury manning one wingback. The other wingback is still to be determined from a number of candidates battling for playing time.

Midfield will have the experienced tandem of junior AJ Paczchowski as defensive midfielder and Ryan Williams as an attacking midfielder. Flanking them, juniors Ricky Chambers and Sam Pawlak look to draw the majority of playing time as outside midfielders.

This group is crucial, playing nearly end line to end line, working hard to maintain possession while the team transitions from defense to offense and back again.

While the midfield crew will certainly get their scoring opportunities, that responsibility will fall more squarely on the striker trifecta of juniors Chad Leonard and Jake Cavacas along with sophomore Addison Provance. This group has a nice mix of speed, skill and experience, and look to find the back of the net often.

The starters will be bolstered by Keegan Sheere, Ian Martel, Matt Chambers, Lucas Trask, Cooper McCoy, Shane Verespy, Casey Keus, Robert Hazeltine and Jake Dion, all working hard for playing time.

After a 5-9 season and a first round loss to fifth ranked Enosburg in the state tournament, and having to account for nine seniors lost to graduation, it would be tempting to set goals like making the playoffs, a first round win, perhaps even a wondrous run through the playoffs. While all of that would be great, coach Walker refuses to couch goals and success in those terms. “It’s all about effort, if we get the effort we need, everything else will take care of itself, and I’ll be happy.” With a solid core of juniors and sophomores, the Chieftains look poised to build the program into a winner, this year and beyond.

2012 Chieftain Boys Varsity schedule

(away games indicated by @)

4:30 p.m., Tuesday, 9/4 @ Long Trail

11 a.m., Saturday, 9/8 @ Twin Valley

4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, 9/11 vs. Twin Valley

6 p.m.,Friday, 9/14 @ Black River/Josh Cole Tournament vs. Leland & Gray

6: p.m. or 8 p.m., Saturday, 9/15@ Black River/Josh Cole Tournament vs. TBA

4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, 9/18 @ Windsor

4:30 p.m.,Friday, 9/21 vs. Leland & Gray

4 p.m., Monday, 9/24 vs. Bellows Falls

4 p.m., Monday, 10/1 vs. Mount St. Joseph

4 p.m., Wednesday, 10/3 @ Proctor

4 p.m., Tuesday, 10/9 vs. Proctor

4 p.m., Friday, 10/12 @ Leland & Gray

4 p.m., Tuesday, 10/16 vs. Windsor

4 p.m., Wednesday, 0/17 vs. Black River

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Filed Under: SoccerSports News

About the Author: Chester native Greg Hart is a 1985 graduate of Green Mountain Union High School. He earned his bachelor of Science at the University of Vermont and returned to the Chester area in 1994 to start a business and a family. He lives in Chester, owns Blue Sky Trading Co. in Ludlow and is the proud father of three. He can be reached at

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