Flipping the narrative/Player profile on Justis Simon

The first year of the Derek Wilson era of Leavenworth High boys’ soccer was one of much learning if not a ton of success.

The squad may have missed the expectations of winning at least half of its games while playing in a roughshod Sunflower League, but there was no doubt the quality of play for the Pioneers had increased.

“They came from a losing culture … from the boys’ aspect, we lost six one-goal games and lost two in overtime, one in double-overtime with 10 seconds left,” Wilson said. “This year it’s really about getting over that hump and doing those little extra things to get over those humps. Those teams that were beating us by seven or eight goals before are now just winning by one goal.

“Now we just have to keep improving to get over to that next level.”

The players have embraced that mentality and are putting in the time.

“Coach expects us to put in all the work we possibly can,” junior Cody Sanders said. “We have to show up and do our best. Mentally, I think we are all tired of losing and we have the drive to move forward and win some more games.

“Winning for me is just seeing large improvement. Last year, we didn’t win a lot of games, but we improved from the year before. We lost a (lot of close) games and this year we will win 1-0 more.”

Jake Dodd, a senior veteran, believes the team has to be enveloped with a roster full of players willing to put in the time.

“I feel the seniors are trying to step up and be better leaders, we are hungry for more,” Dodd said. “Obviously, last year, we felt it was going to be easy going in and now we know we weren’t there and where we need to get. We have to put in the work and have a winning mentality. If you aren’t willing to work then don’t show up. We’re out here to get better and if you don’t want to do that, then leave.

“You have to have the mentality to win, you can’t go in there with the mentality ‘They are No. 1 in the state, we’re going to lose.’ You have to go out there every time and fight for what you want.”

Senior Justis Simon believes this year’s core leadership has higher expectations than classes past.

“Last year, the seniors were awesome … but they didn’t dream as much as we did,” Simon said. “We want to come back with a trophy, we want to win regionals. We want to come back with something to show. It would be nice to show Leavenworth and a Class 6A (Sunflower League) that we can actually compete and go somewhere. If we can get that first trophy, that would be awesome.”