Benny Spirk takes over the Blanchester High School boys soccer program.
A Wilmington High School soccer standout and a four-year starter at Wilmington College, Spirk will bring a deep soccer background to the BHS program.
The Wildcats were 5-9-2 overall in 2019 and 3-5-2 against National Division foes.
Among the players who graduated from that team Cameron Gibson, Tanner Kellerman and Cameron Skidmore.
There are seven returning letterwinners and five returning starters, including Carter Stevens, who earned first-team All-SBAAC National Division honors in 2019. Stevens had 14 goals last season and 32 for his three-year career.
Spirk said Stevens, Colton Wilson, Aaron Abirached, Gavin Colebank, Taylor Cochran and Jacob Haun have “shown great leadership by keeping everyone accountable and giving it 100 percent in everything they do.”
Spirk his first-year coaching group is hungry to learn and motivated to succeed but will need to improve game awareness. The team can contend if the play hard and smart, Spirk said.
”They are a hardworking group of guys that I believe will do great things this year,” Spirk said.
Despite a late-season loss to Goshen, the Clinton-Massie boys soccer team won the SBAAC American Division championship.
The Falcons were 7-2-1 in the league while Goshen won six and tied two and Wilmington won six and tied one.
Trevor McGuiness was a junior last season and had 23 goals for the Falcons, according to the SBAAC website.
Rafael Bellucci Mann was the American Division player of the year. Julio Madrigal was the coach of the year.
McGuiness, Sam Binau and MP Pipolo were first team all-league players last season.
Joe Hammonds was a second teamer and graduated.
It was a tight race for first place in the SBAAC American Division in 2019.
Wilmington finished third at 6-3-1 behind champion Clinton-Massie 7-2-1 and runnerup Goshen 6-2-2.
This year, the Hurricane looks to break through for a league title.
“We have been impressed with the positive attitudes and work ethic of the players through a trying time,” WHS head coach Imad El-Macharrafie said. “We look forward to getting on the field once games start.”
WHS was 9-6-2 in all games. Josh Vaughan, a first-team All-SBAAC player in 2019, has graduated but plenty of talent returns.
There are nine starters among the 12 returning letterwinners on the Alumni Field pitch.
Brady Vilvens is a first-team All-SBAAC player and joins second teamers Jacob Romer and Matt Butcher in the starting lineup. Caleb Reed was given honorable mention.
Vilvens was fifth in the league with 21 goals last season while Romer added 17.
El-Macharrafie said the seniors have “stepped up and are showing great focus and leadership.” They are experienced and look to achieve their goals, he added.
WHS can contend in 2020 if “we play our style of soccer,” El-Macharrafie said.