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The 2020 Scott High boys soccer team is pictured.

MADISON — After the impressive season from Scott High School’s boys’ soccer team in 2019, this year has the Skyhawks facing many new challenges but equipped with a team that is nothing short of exciting.

A large number of seniors make up the bulk of the 22-man Scott squad coached by Zach Boyd and Rodney Miller. Beyond the many seniors, plenty of underclassmen have the strength and the skill to challenge their older teammates for playing time. Every contributing player from the 2019 team has returned, and expectations are high for what this group of young men can do.

“Overall, it’s extremely exciting,” Coach Boyd said. “Our hope right now is that we just get to play the complete season with everything changing minute-to-minute.”

Handling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for teams across the state, and for a team with high hopes like Scott, it is paramount that they ensure their ability to play.

The hard work every player in the black and gold has put forth has made it what it is today, and it is difficult for their head coach to highlight only a few of the contributors. Senior Ian Gillispie was recognized on the West Virginia Soccer Coaches Association’s All-State First Team in 2019. Seniors Carson Asbury and Harrison Parsons were named on the All-State Second Team. The West Virginia Sports Writers Association included Asbury on its All-State First Team, Parsons and senior Evan Constant were honorable mentions, and Gillispie was named as Scott’s Second Team representative. The team’s backline has been touted as one of the best in West Virginia by several opposition coaches.

With recognition on the state level, Boyd expects his players to keep up what they have worked on and continue to improve.

Scott’s defensive core includes senior Tanner Hale, Harrison Parsons, senior Jerod Ferrell, and Evan Constant. Their ability to step up against talented forwards has helped the team find success.

The Skyhawks’ midfield shows great strength as well, and having a healthy Chase Jackson will only help their efforts in 2020. The senior was injured during the 2019 season, and his presence on the field was sorely missed. However, junior Mason Hill’s work in covering his role helped to counteract his absence well. Ian Gillispie moves into the middle to facilitate the ball, and sophomore Isaac Setser is an underclassman to watch.

Senior Lucas Older and Carson Asbury round out the team in their forward roles. Adaptability is key for this squad, however, and Boyd said the team will likely differ from game to game based on who they will be facing.

“We’re a lot deeper this year. Last year we were about 15 or 16 deep, and this year I feel confident that we’ve got about 17 or 18 guys that can step on the field and there’s very little drop-off.”

Though the team is senior-heavy, they are all more focused on the here and now rather than next year, Boyd said. Certainly, with underclassmen who are already stepping up, it bodes well for Scott High’s boys’ soccer program.

The biggest challenge for Scott High in 2020 is playing the perennial elites of West Virginia.

“We’ve been in close games with Charleston Catholic and Winfield, but to date, we’ve not been able to conquer those mountains. That’s one hurdle we’re looking to get over this year,” Boyd said. “You know, we’ve got to be able to step up, and no matter who we’re playing, the name doesn’t matter. Which Scott team is it going to show up? Is it going to be the team of the past that wasn’t as talented, or is it going to be the team that is hopefully going to be playing in the state tournament come November?”

In addressing the pandemic, Boyd has found adapting to that challenge to be more manageable. Many of the changes implemented were things Scott has been doing. Players have always carried their own water, for instance. In truth, the hardest task is keeping the players apart.

“The large majority of this team, they’re really close friends.” Outside of practice, Boyd said, the Skyhawks are as close as family. “We have two sets of brothers on our team, but in all honesty, if you weren’t counting blood, we probably have 12 or 13 sets of brothers on our team.”

Scott opens the season on its home field, facing Point Pleasant Senior/Middle School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2.