Madison’s football coach opens up on team approach after 3 conference wins

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BURNSVILLE – After what coach Allen Raynor called a “tough start” to the season, Madison’s men’s soccer team won their first three conference games to move up to 4-4-1 (2-0) this season.

In their first game of the Western Highlands 1A / 2A on September 13, the Patriots beat Mitchell 3-2. On September 27, Madison defeated Avery County 4-0.

Next, Harper Wilkes scored on an assist from Matt Flores as the Patriots beat Mountain Heritage 1-0 on September 29.

Raynor said her team are starting to find their place as they make their way to the bulk of the conference game.

“We had a rough start to our pre- (conference) season,” said Raynor. “We played teams that we could have joined, but we just didn’t play that night. But so far in conference we’ve done well.”

Raynor said there may have been some extra motivation to win in the team’s match against Mountain Heritage.

“They are our local rivals,” he said. “Their children and our children play together in the indoor league. It’s always a good, close competition. It’s still a good one.

Players to watch

The Patriots are expected to get contributions from a number of players, Raynor said.

“(Junior defenseman / center back) Nolan Little is a standout,” said Raynor. “He’s very dedicated and very serious. (Junior attacking midfielder) Jack Morrow does a lot of work for us. (Junior) forward Eli Payne does a lot for us. He assists left and right.”

Raynor said the team’s goalie, junior Zack Hall, has been one of the best players this year.

“He just kept us in games over and over again. He made a huge penalty save (September 27 in the win over Avery). He’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing. a very, very good goalie. helped train the young goalies and goalies. He’s a good all-around kid. ”

Little’s contributions on the pitch are just one aspect of what he brings to the team as one of its most vocal leaders. But Little isn’t the only player to set an example in the locker room, Raynor said.

“Nolan (Little) is definitely the most talkative,” he said. “We also have Ethan Fitzhugh senior. This is his first year with us. His family moved from Vermont. He’s very vocal, and he’s also a good leader in the field. He and Nolan are kind of both who are really kind of guide us. ”

Team identity, expectations

The team is in the middle of a year of rebuilding, according to its coach.

“The last two generations of seniors who graduated were definitely staple kids for us,” Raynor said. “We have a good grassroots group. We had some good freshmen who came in and contributed this year. It will be a mixed season for us, and it will probably be a mixed season for us next year as well. . “

Raynor said his team has shown determination not to back down from the growth opportunity.

“I think they all accepted the challenge that awaits them and said, ‘You can’t lean on the past. We have to move forward. “They have a great attitude about it: they get into the games realistically with a good commitment to what they need to do to play in the game. They support each other, which is not always the case. with the high school boys. I saw the challenge, and they haven’t backed down. They know we’re rebuilding, but they’re doing their part for the rebuilding process. It’s a good group. ”

According to Raynor, Owen’s dominance has forced the coach to temper his expectations for his team.

Until September 29, Owen was 8-1 overall and was unbeaten in a conference game.

“To be realistic, Owen is in tears this year,” he said. “They’re pushing everyone to submit. So the rest of our conference games, we’re looking to win them and put ourselves in a position where, if we can pull a game from Owen, maybe we can. get it first place. What we’re looking to do is keep our heads down, and everyone’s doing their jobs on those other conference games. “

As for the goals inside the locker room, Raynor said he hopes his team will continue to build on the camaraderie they have established throughout the year.

“We just want to increase the feeling of brotherhood within the team,” he said. “It can be a little disorienting every time the loudest voices leave the room, and the players wonder who is going to lead them now. So we are trying to increase their feelings of oneness and brotherhood between them.”

Calendar coming home

The Patriots face Mitchell at home on October 6 and Draughn at home on October 18.

On October 20, Madison will host Avery County, followed by an October 25 clash with Mountain Heritage at home.


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