Wood River High School sixth-year boys’ varsity soccer coach Luis Monjaras can be a man of few words, preferring to go out and get the job done.
In that respect he’s much like his opposite number for the Jerome Tigers, coach Robert Garcia. The two rival coaches shared the Great Basin Conference “Coach of the Year” award in 2013, for good reason.
Exhibit “A” was the State 4A tournament championship game last October, a thrilling match-up that Jerome captured by a 3-1 score over league rival Wood River for the school’s first-ever state championship.
What a memorable game it was, under the lights at Middleton! Although several key players from both teams have moved on and graduated, the rivalry is alive and kicking, ready to be resumed Sept. 18 at Jerome and Oct. 7 in Hailey.
First of all, Wood River (12-4-4 last year) will get limbered-up with three non-conference games starting Saturday, Aug. 23 with a home contest against the 5A Highland Rams at 11 a.m. at South Valley Sports Complex soccer field, Hailey.
The Wolverines, 8-0-4 in games played with Highland since 2007 including three straight ties, will then travel to play Madison in Rexburg on Tuesday and the Bonneville Bees in Idaho Falls Thursday.
First league game against the Minico Spartans is Thursday, Sept. 4, with the Community School arriving Sept. 6.
“We are a young, fast, determined and experienced team that can’t wait to get our first games in,” Monjaras said this week greeting 41 varsity and junior varsity players to early-season practice sessions.
Over the last two years Monjaras has guided the Hailey boys to their best-ever state tournament finishes at the 4A level—third place in 2012 and second place in 2013, Hailey’s fifth state runner-up finish.
His teams have always played close-to-the-vest and have been strong defensively. They haven’t scored a heap of goals, but they’ve played well on the road, 31-19-8 in Monjaras’ five seasons at the helm.
Last season’s 53 goals in 20 games represented a pleasant departure from the norm.
Leading the way on offense were GBC All-League first-team Jose Ortiz (10 goals) and second-team Zac Miczulski (11 goals). And All-League first-team defender Eron Bates was the heart and soul of the squad.
All were seniors. Bates and Ortiz also made All-State.
Yet Monjaras is excited about his new team led by senior defender Jon Scott, senior goalkeeper Kyle Weller and senior midfielder Sage Kelly, who shared the MVP Midfielder team award with Andrew Graves last year. Both Scott and Weller won “Coaches Awards” for their efforts.
“Most Improved” Ben Brunelle and Yuri McClure have returned, along with another talented junior, Danny Graves.
Wood River last won the league title in 2010, while Jerome (17-4-0 last fall) has won two straight GBC tournament championships and five in seven years. Since 2006, Jerome has enjoyed the better of the rivalry with Wood River, 15-6-3.
The only two games Wood River lost down the homestretch of last season were to Jerome, 1-0 in the league championship game and 3-1 in the state tourney final.
This year, the GBC gets two-and-a-half berths in the State 4A tourney at Coeur d’Alene Oct. 23. That means the opposing teams in the GBC tournament championship game make state, and the third-place finisher gets its opportunity by winning a state play-in game.
Head coach—Luis Monjaras (6th year, 59-24-14, four state tournament appearances, 2nd at State 4A 2013).
Assistant coaches—Eric Anderson and Juan Salamanca.
Seniors (4)—Jon Scott (D), Kyle Weller (GK), Kyle Mungal (MF/F) and Sage Kelly (MF/F).
Juniors (9)—Ben Brunelle (MF), Daniel Graves (MF), Yuri McClure (MF), Guillermo Flores (F), Drew Kaminski (MF/D), Henry Levy (MF/F), Carter Ros (D/MF), Carlos Gonzales (F/MF) and Kevin Cabrito (F).
Sophomores (11)—Nathan Lambert (D), Zach Williams (D), Omar Farfan (F/MF), Arturo Flores (MF), Clay Cutler (D/MF), Alex Leon (MF/F), Mathew Stellers (GK), Michael Madsen (MF/F), Danny Mendoza (F), Sean Davitt (D) and Carlos Gonzales (D/MF).
Freshman (1)—Taylor Koth (D).
Sliders (V and JV)—Mathew Stellers, Taylor Koth, Michael Madsen, Danny Mendoza, Kevin Cabrito, Sean Davitt and sophomore Carlos Gonzales.
Senior (1)—Heladio Vasquez.
Juniors (3)—Kevin Cabrito, Eliel Lopez and Miguel Sanchez.
Sophomores (8)—Mathew Stellers (GK), Danny Mendoza, Michael Madsen, Sean Davitt, Saul Baltazar, Carlos Gonzales, John McIlhenny and Jonathan Ramirez.
Freshmen (11)—Taylor Koth, Martin Aguayo, Andi Cardona, Raul Castro, Israel Ceja, Enrique Dolores, Carlos Hurtado, Tiernan Naghsh, Jose Quinonez, Cooper Roquet and John Stevens.