Head Coach Chris Dowdy won’t come out and say it, nor should he. But when you’re the coach of a team coming off a Northwest Region championship and berth into the VHSL state tournament, there’s only one goal left to attain: a state title.
Granted, there’s a lot of time between now and June, when the state tournament gets underway. But even Dowdy admits that another crack at a state championship is on the minds of his players as they prepare to kickoff their season next Tuesday night.
“We’re kind of at the place where we want to just focus on getting better every day,” Dowdy said. “But yeah, the sky is the limit, and if we can improve day-by-day and game-by-game, I don’t see why we won’t have a chance at the end of the year.”
The 2010 Patriots return a solid core of players, minus superbly talented Fayanga Keita, who now plays his college ball at Marshall University. No worries, though. Still present on the roster is University of Virginia-signee Cameron Chavira.
Chavira is already a marquee player around the Roanoke Valley. For his career, Chavira ranks second all time at Patrick Henry in goals (51), assists (26) and total points. Last season, he was selected First-Team All District for the Western Valley District, while also garnering Northwest Region and VHSL Group AAA First Team honors. ESPNU tabbed Chavira as a 3rd Team All-American.
With Keita gone, opposing teams will almost certainly concentrate on containing Chavira. Dowdy, for one, welcomes that approach.
“I think we would almost invite teams to play that way,” he said. “It’s something we can use to our advantage. And also, Cameron is good enough and strong enough to handle that pressure.”
Still, the Patriots have no chance of reaching their aspirations unless other players around Chavira step in and contribute. One such candidate is sophomore midfielder Max Davidson, a First Team All-District selection as a freshman.
“It’ll be interesting for sure,” Dowdy said. “This season is a big opportunity for other guys, who might be a little under the radar, to come in and make some big plays and score some big goals.”
Schedule-wise, Patrick Henry has done themselves no favors in 2010. The Patriots play several top AAA schools from throughout the state in hopes of gaining valuable experience.
“We’re hoping those games will give us some good lessons to build on and provide a good measuring stick for where we stand,” Dowdy said.By Matt Reeve [email protected]