*Editor’s note: With local schools closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, all 2020 spring sports seasons are currently on hold. However, The Erwin Record still wanted to recognize Unicoi County High School teams and players with this annual section.
By Trey Williams
Unicoi County boys soccer coach Justin Ciralsky couldn’t have been blamed if he’d worried that his inexperienced team might receive a baptism by fire this season.
But while the Blue Devils did indeed get off to a hot start, there was no need for freshman goalkeeper Kenny Meza to make any key saves.
Ciralsky’s squad began the season with a 7-1 win against Hampton. It was followed with a 6-0 waltz past KACHEA.
Not bad for a team with only one senior, Jony Perez, who is new to the program. Perez arrived with a conspicuous level of skills, a godsend for a green roster.
“We are an extremely young team,” Ciralsky said. “We have one senior who is a new student. He has a lot of talent and we are excited to see him play on the field.”
Perez scored in each of the victories for the Blue Devils, who got a hat trick from sophomore Bryan Espinoza in the win against Hampton.
“Bryan Espinoza has loads of potential,” Ciralsky said. “He will be playing up top and we are looking forward to him scoring a lot of goals.”
Miguez Vasquez scored twice against Hampton and once against KACHEA. Fellow junior Daniel Raygoza scored a goal in each victory.
“Miguel Vasquez and Daniel Raygoza will be in the middle of the field,” Ciralsky said. “We will look to both of them to control the ball and own the middle of the field.”
Junior Javier Castellon helps fortify the rear.
“Javier Castellon will be in the back,” Ciralsky said. “He has had some early injuries, but he is feeling better. I am looking to him to help control the back line.”
Juniors Matt Hensley and Lupe Sandoval possess a number of skills and intangibles. And both are built to last.
“Matt Hensley and Lupe Sandoval will be outside middle fielders who are in excellent shape,” Ciralsky said, “and will provide some much needed support for the offensive and defensive players.”
Ciralsky is confident with a freshman in goal. Meza’s two older brothers also played for Unicoi County.
“He is a freshman and has been playing there his whole life,” Ciralsky said. “I’ve been excited to have him as part of the team.”
Juniors Jesus Perez and Jose Ramirez each scored one goal against KACHEA, as did freshmen Markus Acevedo and Ivan Luquin.
If the future isn’t now for the young guns, they have failed to get the memo thus far.
Ciralsky was apprehensive entering the opening week.
“We had two early scrimmages that were eye-opening for us as a team,” Ciralsky said. “Then we were fortunate enough to play two games before the season got postponed. Both of those games were wins. A lot of different players scored and had assists. It was a great start to the season.”
The Blue Devils have one other junior, Eloy Garcia, who will contribute. Cesar Soto is a sophomore for the squad.
The roster’s large class of freshmen includes Angel Vasquez, Adrian Romero, Esteban Mendoza, Joel Terrazas, Miguel Duenas and Nehemiah Edwards.