July 31, 2012 — It’s been four years since Rowan County Head Coach Alan Evans and his Vikings have made the trip to the KHSAA Soccer State Tournament.
Last season’s team steamrolled through the 11th Region on its way to a 14-4-4 record, in addition to another 21st District championship.
A surprise upset by Russell in the first round of the 11th Region Tournament ended Rowan’s state hopes, marking the third straight year the Red Devils have halted the Vikes return to glory.
As the old saying goes, you fall off the horse, you simply have to climb back on.
This is the approach Evans and his Vikings are taking into the new season.
Practicing since May, Rowan is facing the loss of some key components from last year’s team, including its leading scorer, leading assist distributor and keeper.
Evans said his team’s progression throughout the summer has been more than up to par.
“We’ve been pushing hard since May and it really seems to be paying off,” Evans said. “This is the first group of guys I’ve had that have never tasted regional gold, and they’ve got some extra motiviation there.”
Recently, the Vikings took part in a team camp at Centre College, defeating several high-profile programs. This is something the successful Rowan coach says will serve his team well.
“It’s all about the dedication and the hard work you put in here in the summer time,” Evans said. “We had our team camp down at Centre and that went very well. There was some really tough competition down there, and we didn’t lose until the last day. We were able to beat Frankort, Mercer County, and tie Elizabethtown, all top tier teams. Pretty good sign if you consider that we lost half of our lineup from last year.”
Falling to Russell three-straight years in the first round of the regional tournament has left somewhat of a sour taste in the mouths of the Vikings.
The Rowan County program is one with a rich history, as well as a distaste for losing.
Heading down the stretch of summer, Evans and his Vikings are hard at work preparing for a push past the regional compeition to hopefully claim another championship banner.
With the 2012 season set to soon start, Evans says his team’s goals are lofty for this year.
“It’s definitely a driving force for us, we are defintiely tired of losing to Russell in those first round games,” Evans said. “Our ultimate goal is to of course get to state and do something we’ve never done and that’s win a game.”
While making it back to state is the main goal for Evans and his boys, they also do not overlook what must come first.
“While we do have the ultimate goal of a regional title, we realize that we must take it one game at a time,” Evans said. “There are a lot of tough teams in our region, and defeating each of them is a big goal for us, along with winning another district title. These summer sessions serve the purpose of getting us prepared to fulfill our goals. With the amount of senior leadership we have, along with the talent level on this team, we are confident in our chances.”
The 2012 Vikings will be led by a group of 12 seniors, leaving many of the green and white in a do or die situation when it comes to a shot at the championship.
Evans closed by commending his boys work ethic during the summer, saying it makes for some tenacious competition on the roster.
“Having so many seniors, it makes every day on the practice field a fight, and you can’t teach that type of competitive nature,” Evans said. “We’ve got some younger kids with a ton of ability, and this makes the older guys greatly respect their roles, because these younger guys have a passion for the game. We feel we are ready for the fall, and look forward to the opportunity of hopefully claiming what was once ours.”
Grant Stevens can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.