|Ashmore wears captain title well|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 12, 2003 -- Layne Ashmore may play several different positions for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats during a soccer match. He can be the stopper or center-midfielder, or he may be used as goalkeeper during a shootout and then take a shootout kick on the other end.
Wherever he is on the field, though, Ashmore always has one role -- that of captain.
And coach Andy Holt said it's a responsibility he handles well.
"He's one of our captains, and he's excelled in that role," Ashmore said. "We've used him in a variety of ways. Layne's very talented, he's very skilled. He brings a lot to our program."
The Wildcats finish up the regular season tonight at North Lamar, then head to the playoffs next week as the No. 2 seed out of District 14-4A. They've done it with a skill level that Coach Holt and Ashmore both say is probably higher than in recent years.
"My first year, there was more hustle players than really skilled players. Last year was kind of the same way. We had a lot of athletes," said Ashmore, who has been a varsity player for three years. "But now, we've got more touch, more skill, soccer-wise."
Part that reason is because there is a core group of players, Ashmore among them, who has played together in youth leagues and tournaments since they were in middle school.
"A lot of those guys have been playing together for a long time, seven or eight years," Holt said. "Clay McGraw's dad has a team, and he's carried a lot of these guys to play tournaments and things.
"I think that's why their skill level is so high, because they've played together for so long."
Ashmore, the coach said, has the skill to play several different positions for the Cats.
So far this season, he has scored five regulation goals and seven more shootout goals, and he's played stopper for a team that is giving up an average of one goal every two games.
"He plays goalkeeper for us in the shootouts, and last year he played goalkeeper for us all year," Holt said. "He's stepped on the field and played some center-mid, and he's playing stopper right now. He controls the game, really, is what he does.
"When he plays well, our team plays well. When he's able to control the ball and distribute and do those things, they we play really well. It's because of the way he controls the game."
Layne, the son of Keith and Julie Ashmore said he will play anywhere on the field, though he had some trepidation about the defensive-oriented stopper position.
"It doesn't really matter. Center-mid and stopper are pretty much the same thing," he explained. "To be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to playing stopper. It's a more defensive minded position than center-mid, but I'll play pretty much whatever."
That's the kind of attitude the coach expects from one of his captains.
"He's really stepped into that role of being a captain," Holt said. "With that comes the responsibility of being a leader and setting an example. Layne's an asset to our team."