Bell, Rebels motivated after last season

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By Zane Clodfelter, Sports editor

REO -- South Spencer coach John Bell has a pretty good understanding of his boys soccer team coming off a 6-9-2 campaign a year ago.

“We’ll probably be playing an underdog role as we go through this season and hopefully we’ll surprise a few teams,” Bell said. “Anything can happen in high school sports, all you have to do is have a collective group of guys working as one and amazing things can happen.”

Bell said compared to recent years, numbers have dipped slightly to 17 players. The Rebels have six seniors on roster after two would-be senior players decided not to come out for the team this year.

However, Bell is still optimistic knowing that the majority of his backline will be back.

Seniors T.J. Parsley and Trevor Ling will be anchoring the back with senior Tyler Basham in the middle.

“That will be our core for this year and our strength moving forward,” Bell said. “We are looking to build off of that.”

Bell admits other players will have to step up offensively.

“Last year was the first year I did not have a prolific scorer,” he said. “It had to be scoring by committee. So like last year, we are going to have to have some people step up and put the ball in the back in the net.”

One of South Spencer’s best returning threats entering the season will be sophomore Michael Donho after he scored four goals in 17 games last season. Another sophomore, Garrett Kirchgessner, is also expected to contribute to scoring.

As will senior Hunter Harrison, who is expected to move away from his goalie position. Replacing him in the net is senior Jackson Holstein.

For added energy, Bell can turn to juniors Bryton McCrary and Lucky Kirchgessner.

“Bryton is a workhorse, if we need energy from the team, that’s the guy we go to,” Bell said. “Lucky played a little bit his freshman year, stepped into what I’ll call the 12th man last year, being the first one off the bench and filling in spots where needed.”

Bell said if his team is going to be successful, they’ll have to play together as one unit. He has a plan how to do that.

“Possess the ball a lot more, which is what I’m hoping to have out of my team this year,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t be chasing the ball around and wasting more energy.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is where can I put these guys in different roles that they aren’t accustomed to and at the same time get them comfortable playing new positions.”

Communication is still a work in progress in practice for the Rebels but work ethic is not.

“The guys know we aren’t as talented as we used to be. They get it, so I think that is a drive to work harder,” Bell said. “The ultimate goal is to try to compete for our conference and win a sectional.

“I think the positivity in this year’s team is like nothing I’ve had in the last five or six years, which is crucial.”

The Rebels have added former South Spencer and University of Southern Indiana player Shane Shelton as a volunteer assistant for this season, too.

“I think he is going to add that extra element to this team this year,” Bell said. “I can really focus on the defensive backs and a goalkeeper.”

As for the conference, Bell sees Heritage Hills as the leading contender.

“They are going to have a really strong squad,” he said. “It seems to be the case the last four or five years consistently.”

In addition to reigning sectional champion Northeast Dubois, Bell believes Wood Memorial and Forest Park are poised to challenge the Jeeps too.

“Wood Memorial looked pretty good last year and Forest Park is building,” he said. “I know they have some talent coming up and they are young.”

South Spencer opens the season at Princeton Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

“I have to have leadership, who is going to step up and be a leader,” Bell said. “It’s going to be by committee. Everyone is going to play.”