Want to know why the Quincy High School boys soccer team’s coaching staff believes this team has the potential to do what its predecessors couldn’t?
It’s this simple – Commitment.
“You go by Baldwin School on a weeknight or a summer day and who is always out there?” QHS coach Matt Longo said. “It’s Felix Bruner. Dylan Hoschar was out there. Brett Stiles was too. That’s what they have to do if they want to play at the level we play.”
The Blue Devils haven’t won a regional title since 2007 despite averaging better than 17 victories per season each of the last three years.
So what changes things come late October this season?
Here are five keys to the Blue Devils’ success:
1. Defend the home turf
The Blue Devils open the season with seven straight home games, beginning with Monday’s season opener against Macomb. It will be the first contest played on Flinn Stadium’s new artificial turf, which is expected to give Quincy quite an advantage considering the Blue Devils are blessed with speed.
“Every coach has to adjust the system of play,” Longo said. “Now we have to adjust to our field and what it’s capable of doing. This year it’s a perfect match. A fast field. A fast team.”
The players echoed that.
“We’re a fast team,” senior midfielder Felix Bruner said. “The turf couldn’t have come at a better time.”
2. Share and share alike
With Bruner and senior Alan Sieck in the middle, distribution of the ball shouldn’t be a problem. Still, for the Blue Devils to enjoy a consistent attack, everyone needs to get in the mix. That means sharing the ball. Quincy has three extremely quick forwards in Dylan Hoschar, Bronson Melvin and Blake Herman, and they all need to touch the ball. Each is capable of finishing and should wind up with 10 or more goals apiece.
Sieck and Bruner are capable scorers, too. Same goes for Brett Stiles, who will come off the bench. I expect Quincy to have at least four players, maybe five, with double digits in goals. And as exciting as that may be, the more important number is the assists. If Quincy has five or more players with six or more assists apiece, it could be a banner year.
3. Play with your head
There’s a mean streak running through the Blue Devils’ defenders. They can be rugged and tough. They can be intimidating. And they can be physical. Above all, though, they have to be smart. Quincy can ill afford to lose any players to suspension for racking up too many yellow cards. That doesn’t mean the Blue Devils should back down. They simply need to keep their wits when they attack.
4. Run, Devils, Run
OK, that was the basketball slogan back in the glory days of the late ’70s and early ’80s, but it applies here. With speed and depth up front, Quincy needs to run teams ragged. Longo talked about taking the attack to the defense and not letting the defense dictate the attack. That’s key. Quincy can afford to be aggressive, especially since there are quality attackers coming off the bench. If the Blue Devils push, push, push the attack, it’s going to lead to a bevy of easy goals.
5. Play for the moment
The Blue Devils’ goal is to win a regional. That can’t happen until October, so they can’t afford to get caught worrying about the regional now. Granted, each game the Blue Devils play could influence their regional seed and their chances of winning a title, but the team has to play without that looming pressure. It’s cliché to say take things one game at a time, but in a way, that’s what the Blue Devils need to do. They have to put their focus on delivering a quality effort night in and night out. If they do that, it should lead to regional success.