14 players return for the Fort Zumwalt South soccer Bulldogs club that went 22-6-1 in 2016, and made the school’s second trip to the Class 3 Tournament last November.
Zumwalt South finished third in the Class 3 tournament.
The 2017 edition of the Bulldogs has the personnel and the drive to make that journey again.
“Last year, this group obviously had a taste of what being at state is all about and what it takes to be there,” You could see it last year, that they had a little bit more of an edge to them and I think that is the goal for this group.”
It will be the super duo of senior forwards Joey Spotanski and Braden Johnson that will drive the Bulldogs offense and provide big scoring punch. Spotanski, one of the area’s most prolific players, scored a team-high 22 goals last fall and Johnson was strong around the goal box with 17 goals. Senior forward Jacob Booker (7 goals) rounds out the Bulldogs front line, giving them a potent attack.
“Most of our core guys are back, especially offensively,” Layne said. “We are primarily going to be a three-forward up top type of offense and that will simply be because of our offensive firepower. This is probably going into it (the season) the most offensive team we’ve had.”
Lane is hoping that scoring power will show early and often at the start of the season because defense along the back line may be weak and take a while to develop.
“It’s gonna take some time for our backfield to become finalized,” Layne said. “We are going to try a bunch of different people.”
Junior defenseman Devin Livingstone is slated to see time in the backfield for the Bulldogs. Sophomore defenders Collin Walsh and Blake Mann are expected to work in on the back line as center backs.
The midfield area will be effectively covered by seniors Noah Martin and Matt Rush.
In goal, Zumwalt South returns senior keeper Ben Faherty and junior goalie Grant Baisch.
Faherty, who won 6 games last year, will play a bigger role between the pipes due to Dylan Bushman’s graduation.
“Goalkeeping-wise, I’m very satisfied with what we have,” Layne said. “Ben right now is our guy we’re going to lean on and Ben has really kind of grown into his own. Technically he is a phenomenal goalie.”
Layne said that he expects the offense to carry the club somewhat in the first few weeks of the season but believes the defense will round into shape to make the club very balanced.
The focus is crystal-clear for the Bulldogs and they are ready to be playing deep into November again this fall.
“I think having that (state) experience is going to help,” Layne said. “When playoff time rolls around anything can happen but I think the biggest thing is these guys know what it takes to really kind of okay deep into November and you just have to stay focused with everything you do on the field.”
Fort Zumwalt South opens the season on Aug. 19 at Francis Howell Central.