The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) varsity boys soccer team is heading into the district season with high aspirations; such as winning its second ever district championship.
Wrapping up its non-district schedule Friday, Jan. 31, RFHS holds an overall record of 8-2.
RFHS Head Boys Soccer Coach Mike Elkins, in his fifth year at the helm, say’s it’s the best record his team has ever held heading into the district season.
With key wins over successful 5A teams in the area such as Gregory-Portland and Calallen, Elkins say’s there are many factors going into their successful play, but most importantly the team is playing very well, collectively.
While Elkins admits he’s coached many outstanding individual players before, this years team is playing with a chemistry unlike teams in the past have been able to consistently.
“I’ve had much better soccer players in years past than I have right now, but I’ve never had a better team,” said Elkins. “I’ve had fantastic talent, but we just couldn’t mesh it together at times. But these guys, they’re a better soccer team than they are soccer players. For this team, their chemistry and the way they’ve played together has contributed to their success so far.”
Coach Elkins believes RFHS is the team to beat in District 30-4A. RFHS’ district consists of London, Beeville, Kingsville, and Santa Gertrudis Academy.
“I think we can match up with anybody,” said Elkins. “It may sound arrogant, but I believe we’re the team to beat this year and I’ve expressed that to the team.”
While the Pirates have their eyes set on winning another district championship, another goal of theirs is to win its first playoff game.
Elkins believes with the way his team has been playing on offense and defense, they have a strong chance this year.
The Pirates are comprised of nine seniors, five juniors, and four sophomores.
Seniors are Cristain Flores, Joe Franks, Edgar Deleon, Joel Gonzalez, Eli Rios, David Lozano, Axel Espino, Sergio Rodriguez, and Hugo Gutierrez.
Elkins say’s the group of seniors this year have strong leadership qualities. And rather than one or two guys leading the team, all nine of his seniors share a role as leaders.
“In their own way, they all bring something to the table leadership wise,” said Elkins. “I’ve talked to them about having teams in the past that were good teams but didn’t have true leaders. But, there’s not one person that’s leading this team, it’s by committee.”
The Pirates speed on defense has been a tough match up for nearly every team they’ve played this season. Franks and Deleon bring the speed to the RFHS defense.
“Our team is just blessed with speed. When you have Edgar in the back, and Franks in front of him, nobody is going to run past those two guys,” said Elkins. “Nobody on any high school soccer team is going to run past those two guys.”
J. Gonzalez has been the field general for RFHS. Elkins say’s he has come a long way and makes the RFHS’ midfield a well-oiled machine.
Espino gives RFHS a threatening scoring presence from midfield.
Gutierrez is one of RFHS’ interchangeable pieces as a forward and midfielder. Elkins says many of his offensive players have been working at both midfield and forward, giving RFHS a lot of flexibility if changes need to be made.
“Those guys (Espino and Gutierrez) are both playing different positions and I kind of moved them as starting forwards and my true forwards I had last year have kind of flipped back to midfielders,” said Elkins.
Juniors are Gavin Mayfield, Richard Lizcano, Nathan Terhune, Alex Ruiz, and Michael Gonzalez.
Lizcano returns as one of the Pirates dynamic scorers from a year ago. Elkins say’s Lizcano makes an impact on the game no matter where he is.
Ruiz is new to the varsity boys team having played on the junior varsity a year ago. Elkins say’s Ruiz has been a pleasant surprise for the team in the midfield.
M. Gonzalez returns for his second year as the Pirates goalkeeper. So far this season, he has recorded three clean sheets.
Sophomores are Cody Davila, Max Carreon, Scott Salinas, and Wyatt Bohn.
Carreon, who started for RFHS last year as a freshman, has been hampered this season by a nagging injury. Elkins said he expects Carreon will be healthy enough to see more playing time once district rolls around.
Elkins say’s the rest of his sophomores have been heavy contributors this season. Davila and Salinas have been starting while Bohn has seen his playing time increase as the seasons progressed.
This year’s junior varsity soccer coach is Wayne Spillman.
Elkins say’s Spillman has been great for the program and is providing more game tape for RFHS to utilize.
RFHS begins the district season at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7 at Kingsville.