Photo/James Pugh

The first game of the MHSAA 2018-2019 soccer season is Saturday. Here is a preview of the South Jones boys soccer team.

By the numbers…

Previous year record: 7-9-2

Previous year Region 5-5A record: 4-2

Number of returning starters: 9

Games scheduled this season: 17

First scheduled game…

Saturday, Nov. 3 at 4:30 p.m. vs. St. Andrew’s Episcopal (Sumrall Classic)

First scheduled Region 5-5A game…

Friday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. vs. Laurel.

What the head coach Lucas Gleason says:

“We have nine seniors returning. Kenner Zadrozny will be our captain this year. He took a leadership role for us in the offseason. He works hard and takes control of the team on and off the field, making sure things are set for the day. He’ll be our rock on defense. He’ll communicate to the other guys and help them get set up. We’re bringing in a new formation this year; it will be a little different, so he’s that guy on the field that will keep our guys in position. I’m expecting our senior leadership to be our core strength this year. 

“We have a guy, Jacob Aguire, that will step up and play center-mid for us. He’s a junior this year, so that helps us in the long run. 

“Mark Diers returns on defense. Our back defenders will be made up of Diers, Zadrozny and Tristan Super. Aguire will be our defensive mid. Those four guys will be key for us to be successful. 

“Then we have Tyler Ducksworth. Not enough can be said about him in the way that he controls the ball and can shoot. He has a powerful leg. Andrew Howard is another guy we have returning. He’ll be our striker up top. He’ll be the guys that can score or move the ball to our wings on the side. He’ll be a force in the box too. Fausto Reyes returns for us as well. He’s smart with the ball. 

“Overall, I’m excited about the guys we have this year. They have the mental capacity to take on the new formation we’ll be running this year. And I’m proud of that. We’ll be playing from a 3-4-3 diamond this season. Not a lot of high schools are used to that. A lot of them run a 4-4-2. Those back four that I mentioned before will be key for us when the ball comes back [to the defensive side of the formation]. 

“Also I have to mention our goalkeeper, Emmanuel Gonzales. He gave up a few goals last year, but he’s getting better. We’re working with him a good bit, and I believe he’ll come along good.

“We’ll have some guys too that will be stepping in. Jose Gonzales, Parker Morgan – Dalton Morgan, who played for us, that is his younger brother – Matt Smith and several others will help us out. We have several guys who we plan to us as role players and our older guys will be our anchors.”

“I scheduled a few of the tougher teams towards the front end of our schedule. I want to play the tougher teams. I want our guys to learn our new formation, so when we get to region play, it’ll be comfortable with. We’re going to struggle because its new, but I believe it’ll make us successful down the road.”