CHS team looks to build on success

by Alan Williams

The Conway Wampus Cats are ready to begin the 2013 soccer season.  

The Cats want to continue to build from last year’s success when the team made it to the second round of the state playoffs. Last year, 7A champion Springdale was the first team from the 7A west to claim the state title.

Since the formation of the 7A conference, the state champion has come from the 7A central and was won by Conway or Little Rock Catholic.

This year, the conference is made up of Conway, Fort Smith Northside, Fort Smith Southside, Greenwood, Russellville, Little Rock Catholic, Little Rock Hall and Parkview. In order to make four conferences, 6A schools are blended into the mix and will break off at state tournament time to play in their own bracket.

As Conway prepares for the season to begin the team is playing games before the conference schedule starts. Many coaches believe in playing lesser competition to build on their teams early season success. Coach Robert Irons, who is beginning his 15th year as the head coach for Conway, has the philosophy to play at the team’s level or above your talent to improve. Therefore, Conway will play its first game on Friday, Feb. 22, against last year’s state champion Springdale in a benefit game to help raise funds for the AAA. The next game will be against Memphis Christian Brothers, Tennessee state champions the last two years, on Friday, March 1. The team will also play in the Cabot tournament along with other 7A teams Cabot, Bryant and Rogers on Saturday, March 2.

The conference schedule will begin on Friday, March 8, and end on Friday, May 9. This year the athletic directors have attempted to adjust the schedule so that all away games, which are more than an hour away from Conway, will be played on Friday nights. This means out of the four Friday nights in April, the Wampus Cats will travel to the Fort Smith area three of those nights to play conference games.

This year’s team is led by seniors Ryan Davis, Geoffrey Gough, James Keith, Logan Hampton, Andrew Massey, Victor Ramirez, Luis Silva and Matthew Williams. Hampton, Massey and Williams are three-year returning lettermen who began playing on the varsity team as freshmen.  Davis, Keith, Ramirez and Silva have all lettered the last two years and have also had significant minutes on the varsity team. Gough is a new player to the Wampus Cats but not to Conway as he has played his last three seasons for Conway Christian High School.  

All of the seniors have been involved locally with club soccer by either playing together with Conway Rush or against each other with clubs from the Little Rock area.  

The Cats have a strong group of underclassmen as well with seven returning juniors led by starters Landon Cole, Nestor Moguel and goalkeeper Kwan Tolbert.

The Cats are definitely building on the future as they have a total of 18 sophomores and three freshmen on this year’s team.