It's a season of growth and competition for the boys soccer programs
This past June was the FIFA World Cup for men's soccer and the momentum shifted into the high schools for the upcoming fall boys soccer season.
East Ridge, Woodbury and New Life Academy are facing its own individual problems, but all of them have the same goal in mind.
That goal is to win sections and put themselves into the state tournament.
"You need the whole team to do their part for a team to be successful," said East Ridge junior Reese Dodd. "This year, the team looks strong and should be a fun season."
Last season, the Raptors went 9-3-2 in the regular season, but were bounced out of sections early with a 1-0 loss to Woodbury. Head coach Anthony Boswell said there's a lot of parity within the conference as there's always a couple teams that are atop the standings and then there's a few teams that are fighting for those top spots every season.
Bidwell believes this Raptors team will be able to compete with the top teams in the conference and continue its excellence from last season. He's also hoping to see this team play soccer the way the world enjoys watching the sport of soccer.
"I'm hoping we're starting to play soccer the way it's meant to be played," Bidwell said. "We have players that have higher soccer IQ's and play as a team."
The Park Wolfpack are continuing to grow with each day of practice and each game they play as a team, according to head coach Jason Arnebeck. It's been an adjustment of learning new faces and how each player contributes on and off the field.
Last season, the Wolfpack graduated 18 seniors from the program. It was a senior class that Arnebeck said will be "winners of life" and he had to replace those spots on the field this season.
"What that means this season is there are a lot of open opportunities for these new players," Arnebeck said. "It'll be fun to see the talent that we can develop throughout the course of this season."
Park went 3-10-1 last season and lost in the first round of section play against East Ridge. This season, the two captains on the team, Femi Adewola and Joey Petricka, are hoping to improve on that record with the new talent surrounding the program.
The two also understand that this is not their final year at Park High School as both are juniors. The team is very young with only three seniors on their roster, so Arnebeck is hoping to keep development high and a continued strive for learning.
"It'll be fun to see how all these new players are able to interact with each other on the field," Adewola said. "The future looks bright for the Park boys soccer program."
The New Life Academy Eagles are seeing many new faces on the varsity team this season as the team brought back only two starters from last season.
The preseason has been filled with many learning opportunities for the young players, but senior captain Jackson George is looking forward to helping the future of this program. He's also excited to give his complete attention to his senior year this season and provide as much as he can before his high school career concludes.
"We have some really talented younger players that can build the future of this program," George said. "I can't wait to see some of that talent show this upcoming season."