Team: Warren Boys Soccer
Coach: Denny Flatt, Fifth year, 42-31-1
Assistant coaches: Chris Darling, Assistant Coach, Steffen Blair, Volunteer Coach, Mike Kiehl, Volunteer Coach
2019 overall record: 12-6
Teams in League: Conneaut, Eisenhower, Franklin, Meadville, Oil City, Saegertown, Titusville
Postseason results: Quarterfinals lost to Fort LeBoeuf 3-2
The Warren boys soccer team has big shoes, or spikes, to fill this season.
The Dragons lost Region 5 Player of the Year, Caleb Lindell and his 47 goals, and Second Team All-Region 5 players Ryon Flatt and Tyler Gustafson from a squad that lost a heart breaker in the District 10 quarterfinals.
Despite those losses, Warren returns an experienced senior class that features a trio of all-region performers. Team Captains Zane Anderson (MF, first team all-region), Ian Darling (GK/F, second team all-region), Wesley Kiehl (MF) and John Page (D, second team all-region) anchor the group. Alex Ferry (GK/F) and Sean Duckett (D) have a wealth of experience and figure to be key contributors.
Kiehl, who missed much of the season due to injury, figures to be one of the Dragons’ main offensive weapons.
“He is definitely motivated for his last season and will serve as our offensive leader,” head coach Denny Flatt said. “He processes good skills and is cerebral on the field. Wesley quickly recognizes offensive openings and directs his teammates accordingly.”
In the junior class, returning lettermen JT Blum (F/MF) and Roman Sheets (MF) also bring game experience and could help fill the offensive void. Kohle Lyon (F) is working his way into a role on the offense, while Ricky Madril (D), also coming back from injury, will help the retooled defense.
“Ricky has had a great preseason,” Flatt said. “Ricky is a hard worker and is skilled at defending perimeter attacks. I am confident he will have a great season.”
The Dragons also feature a trio of returning sophomore letter winners as well, including second team all-region selection Jack Darling (D). Corban Reinard (F) has the skills to create turnovers and Parks Ordiway (F/MF) looks to build on a solid freshman campaign.
“He is bigger and faster this year and playing with confidence,” Flatt said.
A number of other sophomores have noticeably stepped their games up and Flatt expects many of them to become major contributors this season.
“Holden (Creal) has really stepped up his game and is playing very well,” Flatt said. “His competitive nature will result in a lot of varsity action this year. Patrick (Heffern) is playing with more confidence and distributes the ball very well.
“Mark (Lynds) dedicated the off season to improving his game and it has paid off,” he continued. “His physical presence up top and willingness to take on defenders will be an asset to our offensive ‘punch’ this year.”
Flatt also expects Will Nebinski (F/GK) to see significant minutes in a variety of roles.
“He should gain valuable experience this year,” Flatt said. “Will is a very motivated player and willing to play any position.”
The wealth of experience, coupled with extra motivation, should serve the Dragons well as they navigate a COVID-altered season.
“We have a group of very hard workers,” Flatt said. “During our voluntary conditioning workouts, we had almost perfect attendance at each session. Our seniors know they came very close to not playing and are very eager to begin the official season.”
COVID-19 mitigation efforts eliminated a key off season program. In its stead, the Dragons will need to rely on the chemistry created among these players over the course of their careers.
“We were unable to play our spring travel season (due to COVID),” Flatt said. “Playing competitive matches cannot be replicated. Travel ball practices also serve as a great ‘tune up’ for the upcoming high school season.”
The delayed start to fall camp also eliminated a key week of conditioning. Warren typically has a week of camp with a college coach that wasn’t able to happen this year as well.
The changes weren’t entirely negative.
Warren players turned to program alumni to help keep them in shape and build skills during the summer. The debate over whether there even would be a season provided a stark reminded of how short a high school career is.
“Seniors realize their season and high school soccer careers almost came to an abrupt end,” Flatt said. “This group of seniors is very talented and extremely focused at having a very memorable season.”
District 10’s region realignment and scheduling provides the Dragons with some interesting match ups this season. One, in particular, should draw plenty of Warren County interest.
“The Eisenhower match will feature friends on both teams competing against each other,” Flatt said. “Three of the senior Knights have been teammates with Dragons seniors.”
Despite the changes, Warren’s goals remain the same.
“Our opponents have gone through the same adversity we have,” Flatt said. “How teams respond to the adversity will be the difference maker this season. The players and coaches want to translate their hard work into a memorable record.”
The Dragons have their season, and home, opener Saturday, Sept. 12, against Franklin at War Memorial Field. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.
The full schedule can be found here.