The high school soccer regionals begin Tuesday for the Lansing, Leavenworth and Basehor-Linwood teams. For one player, it means one more chance to get together with teammates and have a good time.
The Lions of Lansing (0-16) enter Northeast Regional No. 2 play as the 16th seed and play at No. 1 Blue Valley Southwest at 6 p.m. The Lansing freshmen – who make up half of the roster – have one more chance to play with the young man they consider a teammate, coach and role model – senior Jarred Edwards.
Edwards is a standout performer. He is also one of only two seniors who have been tasked with leading a team into the future. He has handled the chore with not only class, but with a high level of enthusiasm despite the defeats.
“Everyone has some kind of unfortunate situation they are in at some time,” Edwards said. “This year we had a lot of younger guys who couldn’t always keep up and that’s what killed us the most. Everybody comes out to have fun and that’s what soccer is about, having fun.”
Playing in Germany a few years ago, Edwards dealt with a similar situation. He believes that helped steel his resolve at Lansing. “I’ve been where the (young players) are,” Edwards said. “You just have to power through it.”
Edwards hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He might be able to play soccer there, but his better opportunities are being offered from NCAA D3 programs. Head coach Ryan Yedlinsky believes Edwards can play at a pretty high level in college.
“He’s a mature person and his attitude is everything,” Yedlinsky said. “Everyone sees his skills on the pitch. What people don’t see is how he boosts people. The younger guys are very comfortable going to him. He’s not a kid. He’s an adult at an early age. He’s a fighter, he wants to win, but he understands the situation that he’s in. He’s all about making sure the next generation is ready to go.
“He can play NCAA D2 at least. Every coach I’ve gone against? That’s the guy they talk about. He’s the one that stick to everyone’s mind.”
His younger teammates have appreciated Edwards’ place in their lives and will miss him moving forward.
“Jarred just took the lead and everyone pretty much expected it,” freshman Johnathan Valieant said. “It will be hard (without him next year)…he’s helped us. We call him ‘Coach Jarred’ because that’s what he basically is. He’s our best player obviously. He’s very good and even the best teams we play, he’s as good as their top players.
“He’s very positive in the way he leads. What he says is almost law, but he’s laid back all the time. He’s not telling you to do things he can’t do. He didn’t exclude the freshmen and even became friends with us. It’s hard to admit (they love him), but yeah.”
The Leavenworth Pioneers (7-9) head to Tecumseh as the 5A Northeast Regional’s No. 10 seed and will take on No. 7 Shawnee Heights at 6 p.m. The final would be Thursday at a site and location to be determined.
“Shawnee Heights is a good team, but we can beat them if we play well,” LVHS head coach Derek Wilson said. “We then would more than likely get Mill Valley which is a very tough matchup. (Mill Valley) did well in the East Kansas League this year. We ended the season 3-1 so we are going in with a lot of confidence.”
Led by Justis Simon’s seven goals, the midfield play of Kobie Kensinger (five goals, three assists) and Nate Moore manning the back line, the Pioneers have had their best season in memory.
“We have had a solid season and we have let a few slip away that we shouldn't have though,” Wilson said. “We still have a chance to break the program’s win record.”
Basehor-Linwood (12-2-1) will begin another journey in the Class 4-1A state playoffs when it hosts the Northeast Regional No. 3 beginning Tuesday. The Bobcats will host the winner of Monday’s game between Heritage Christian Academy (6-9) and Atchison (1-15). BLHS is seeded third in the bracket. The regional final will take place Thursday in Basehor if the Bobcats win their opener. “Our boys have been great at taking games one at a time this season so I know we'll be a focused group coming into this week,” BLHS head coach Austin Knipp said. “I think our team has played consistent throughout the season. We have a great group of core players that really set the tone and we have a great group of role players that do all of the necessary things to ensure that their contribution is positive and effective. I have no doubt that our guys will come out focused and ready to go.”