Rough start for state champions |

Rough start for state champions

Jared Green

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Third-year varsity player JJ Torres runs drills during soccer tryouts for South Tahoe High on Monday at South Tahoe Middle School.

There were two grand unveilings at South Tahoe Middle School on Monday. The new wave of South Tahoe High players that will attempt to defend the team’s state title went through their first practice, while the field they were playing on was in use for the first time in three months. Both the team and the field looked a little rough.

The Vikings return only two starters from last year’s team that beat Centennial High, 2-0, in the state championship game. One of them, Cory Vermillion, missed practice due to an adult league game. The other, Jason DeBacker, rolled his ankle on one of the many bumps on the field and limped around the rest of the afternoon.

With eight of last year’s starters graduated, including stars Leon Abravanel, Alex Torres and Victor Mariscal, and former goalie Carlos Ramirez having moved to Las Vegas, there are more holes than known quantities in the lineup.

“We’re going to have to see what these guys can do,” said head coach Chris DeLeon, who was promoted after longtime coach Joe Winters retired after last season. “Obviously, we need a whole bunch of guys to step up and be ready to play key roles.”

While DeLeon was concentrating on his players, assistant coach Ed McClain was more concerned with the woeful condition of the pitch at STMS, which will serve as the team’s practice and game field. Although it has been fenced off for most of the summer, the new sod didn’t take hold on several bare patches and the grass has grown just long enough to snag players’ cleats.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen (the field),” McClain said. “You almost can’t hold a good practice because the ball jumps around so much, and I guarantee we’re going to get players hurt out here.”

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McClain’s words were prophetic as DeBacker injured his ankle moments later. Both of the varsity goalkeepers were dirty and bruised after diving on the dirt patches in front of their nets, and several offensive surges during a scrimmage went awry as the ball jumped over players’ feet.

The Vikings coaches have termed the opening week of practice “Hell Week” as they begin to shape their squad. With 24 upperclassmen trying out for 20 varsity spots, they’ll make decisions later this week on sending players down to junior varsity for more experience.

“Come ready to play or don’t come out,” DeLeon said to end Monday’s practice. “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”

2004 South Tahoe High Boys Soccer Schedule

8/27 at Bishop Manogue 3:30 p.m.

9/01 DAMONTE 3:30 p.m.

9/08 RENO 5 p.m.

9/10 NORTH TAHOE 3:30 p.m.

9/11 at Wooster 11 a.m.

9/14 at North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.

9/15 DOUGLAS 3:30 p.m.

9/18 CARSON 11 a.m.

9/22 at North Valleys 3:30 p.m.

9/25 HUG 1 p.m.

9/29 at Spanish Springs 7 p.m.

10/02 at Reno 11 a.m.

10/06 at Reed 7 p.m.

10/09 WOOSTER 1 p.m.

10/13 at Douglas 3:30 p.m.

10/16 at Carson 7:30 p.m.

10/20 NORTH VALLEYS 3 p.m.

10/23 at Hug 1 p.m.

10/30-11/6 Regionals

11/12-13 State

Home games played at South Tahoe Middle School