Murray County’s boys team appears to have enough talent for a return to state — at least that’s the confidence Indians coach Marco Burgueno expresses going into the season.
Six starters return for the Indians from last year’s 14-4 campaign, during which they finished as Region 7-2A runner-up to Calhoun before losing to Atlanta’s Lovett in the opening round of the Class 2A state tournament.
“We should do well again,” Burgueno said. “I think that we’ll do as well as last year. Our strength should be in our adaptability to the various situations.”
Burgueno pointed to Calhoun as a “team to beat again” and also cited Coosa among the region contenders.
Senior Jose Ruiz led the Indians with 27 goals last season, and the 2013 honorable mention for all-area honors leads a group of midfielders with several veterans in the ranks. That group includes senior Filiberto Nunez, junior Alejandro Ramirez and sophomore Eric Soto.
There are two returning starters for the defense — junior Carlos Raymundo and senior Domingo Bautista — and others expected to spark the Indians are senior goalie Roberto Zuniga (who replaces graduated three-year starter Humberto Alvarez), senior forward Fernando Arias, sophomore forward John David Adams, versatile junior Juan Bautista and junior defender Rodrigo Lucas.
Although they didn’t make the state tournament last year, the Lady Indians went 10-8 and broke new ground, said coach Mandy Ledford.
“Last year was the school’s first winning season for girls soccer,” she noted. “We missed making the state playoffs by one game. That season should give us some momentum. However, we graduated 11 seniors, including seven starters. A lot of our girls played JV.”
Senior midfielders Baylee Cudd and Catherine Gonzales lead the returning varsity players, while senior Tania Zuniga and junior Marai Hernandez saw extensive action as defenders. The team’s other seniors are forward Aracely Garcia and midfielder Stacy Sandoval.
The team also has a large junior class, made up of Eve Bautista, Heidy Cabral, Yesenia Castenda, Morgan Devitt, Paxton Dolly, Sarah Karlsen, Catrina Lopez, Sandra Ramirez, Celena Sanchez and Deyna Sanchez.
Murray County opens its season Monday at Coahulla Creek, with the girls playing at 5 and the boys playing at 7.