Experience Matters: Wildcats banking on veteran players for leadership
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
March 20, 2008 - When the Sulphur Springs Wildcats step onto the McKinney Boyd pitch tonight for their bi-district playoff game, head coach Andy Holt will be depending on experience playing a part of his team's success.
The Wildcats have 11 seniors on the team, and several of them are multi-year starters, including sweeper Jesus Torres, forward Oscar Marroquin and outside midfielder Zach Junot.
Marroquin and classmate Tate Ramirez are both holdovers from the 2006 team that made it all the way to the regional championship match.
Marroquin has scored 24 goals the last two seasons combined. He has nine goals and four assists this year, with six of his goals coming in the Wildcats' last six games. That included the only score in their 1-0 victory over Texas High.
"Oscar missed several games early in the year because he was injured," Holt explained. "He's gotten on a roll here the last few games, and I think that's because he's finally getting back in the swing of things and being full-strength. He's great for us up top, he has a knack for finding the goal, and he's done a great job."
The key for Marroquin, Holt said, it to be assertive.
"He definitely needs to be aggressive and look for that shot when he has it," the coach explained. "He has a good leg, and we need him to be in the mix."
Marroquin knows something about being in the thick of things on the football field. A Second Team All-District kicker, he had one of the best hits of the season on a Texas High kick returner. It was an emotional play, but Marroquin says soccer really gets his blood pumping.
"There's a lot of emotion behind the game," he said. "One goal can pump you up. I have a good feeling about our game, because we've played so well lately. We've picked it up, we had a great season this year."
When he's not playing soccer, Marroquin helps out with Shawn Massey's welding business. He also lives with the Masseys. After graduation, he will enter the U.S. Army.
On the other end of the soccer pitch is Torres, who plays defensive sweeper - one of the most important positions in Holt's scheme. He made the switch from midfielder because of his savvy, skill and athleticism.
"Jesus is a very versatile player," Holt said. "This year, we moved him to sweeper, and he's made the adjustment very well. He's really developed back there. It's not a question mark - he's solidified that spot."
"Jesus understands the game very well. He's somebody we rely on."
Torres helped the Wildcats engineer eight shutouts this season, but he said the transition didn't come without some trepidation.
"When Coach Holt first moved me there, I was kind of nervous," Torres explained. "But I knew he needed me and that was going to be my spot on the field. I do the best I can to keep the defense up and start the offense."
The son of Felipe and Donna Torres, Jesus works part-time at Dairy Queen, and in his free time tries to practice his soccer skills and help his family around the house.
He plans on attending Blinn Junior College to become a coach.
Junot is also a two-year starter after transferring from Bastrop before his junior year. He starts at right outside midfielder, where he has scored four goals and logged five assists.
"Zach understands his position and his role on the team," Holt said. "He understands that outside mid position, that he has to get up and down and play defense, and then he does a great job of serving the ball in. He can do some good things out there on the line."
Junot admits that crossing the ball to the other offensive players is probably what he does best. The beneficiaries are his teammates.
"He's able to play a good ball. For the most part, he can put it where he wants it, and he can find people with scoring chances," Holt explained.
After transferring, Junot fit right in on the team and was an Honorable Mention All-District midfielder as a junior.
"I actually came here and made friends really fast. I love this town, and it was a great change for me," he said. "I enjoy playing the balls in and getting the guys the ball to score."
Hopefully, they will have a lot of chances tonight.