As the Indians enter their final six games of the season, one thing is for sure – there are no certainties in district 11-4A.
With several teams upsetting one another, Coach Jason Venable has every reason to believe the remaining six games of district play will be closer than what he even expected.
As Corsicana sits atop the district, the Indians (10-5, 8-4) are left to battle Red Oak, Ennis, Forney, Kaufman and Terrell for the final two spots.
While the Indians are in the middle of the pack, Venable knows his team’s early inconsistency have cost the Indians some valuable ground.
“For a while, we weren’t doing quiet as well as I would have anticipated at the beginning of the season,” he said. “While we have made some strides in several areas, we still aren’t performing as well as I think we are capable of.”
The stretch of games Venable was referring to was losses to Corsicana, Forney and Ennis in which the Indians were out scored 7-1 after starting the district season 3-1.
With a 4-4 record and hopes of making the playoffs slimming, the Tribe has strung together four wins in a row inching closer to the expectation Venable had at the beginning of the season.
“We have not met the expectations yet,” he said. “We are making progress and should be able to get back in the district race for the playoff spot if we continue to do as we have so far.”
As the Indians continue to win, Venable is seeing something in his team he hadn’t so far this season – consistency.
“Consistency has been an issue,” he said. “A solid performance each time out is needed in this district.”
The turn in consistent play stems from the surprise efforts of the Indians’ midfield.
“The play of the midfield has been the surprise so far this season,” Venable said. “The depth of Thomas McNamara, Hugo Guerrero, Eric Davila and Richie Padron in the middle has helped. We also have a great rotation outside with Tyler Federwisch, Matt Calame, and Daniel Ramirez.”
The combination of the seven players’ effort has resulted in 6 goals and 8 assists but more importantly those individuals are beginning to control the tempo of the game, which is allowing forwards Sheldon Ellis and Hank Alven to light up the scoreboard.
The two forwards have combined for over 72 percent of the team’s goals.
Ellis is currently leading the team in goals (19) and assists (10).
“Even with other coaches keying on him he has several games with multiple goals and is one of the assist leaders as well,” Venable said. “He is a complete player, great skill, great talent.”
Venable also added Ellis is a true finisher who has accepted his role this year as a set man.
As a set up man, Ellis has sent is fair share of passes to Alven, who is second in goals (12) and third in assists (4).
“He is another leader who has stepped his game up this year,” Venable said of the senior forward. “I believe he is the most improved and most focused player on the team.”
Venable added that Alven has a great attitude and just wants to help the team win noting that he has played sweeper, midfield, and forward at times this season and doesn’t mind doing whatever the team is needing to help them reach their playoff goal.
The other forwards Colton Dobbins (6 goals and 4 assists) and James Gish (2 assists) have showcased the depth at the forward spot for the Indians.
While the offense have posted a 2.87 scoring average, defenders Jonathan Salianas, Forrester Coppock, Janni Lehmkuhl, as well as, sweeper Colby Maynard have contributed to the defense holding its opponents to a 0.93 GAA.
In doing so, senior goalkeeper Chase Woodhouse has recorded five shutouts in 15 games he has started and finished this season.
“Chase has been our main stay in the back for a couple years now and has improved in every aspect in the goal for us,” Venable said. “As true leader with an phenomenal work ethic, he should be considered for All District again this year after being 1st team last year.”
With Woodhouse and the rest of the 10 seniors attempting to end their careers in the postseason, Venable knows he has to rely on his seniors.
The seniors have all been leaders and motivators at times this season. Exemplifying a positive attitude and work ethic will allow the Indians to be in the running for a playoff spot, according to Venable.
“Well 11 seniors can be a blessing or a headache,” he said. “The season started well but it started to slip and the seniors stepped up and had to make a decision to let go or hold on and refocus to get back where we all wanted to be when this thing got started."
Venable hopes the seniors will continue to lead during the most crucial stretch of games, as his squad will take on Red Oak, Corsicana, Forney and Ennis in the final six games of the season.
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