The Juneau-Douglas High School boy’s soccer team likes the spot light that shines off their past three state titles.
Yes three. Three years of having the smarts to win the highest Grade Point Average trophy at the state championships.
“That is how we ease that tension on the field,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “We are proud that academics is playing a role in our success.”
As for the state soccer title?
The Crimson Bears have won the past two championships and three of the last four, finishing fourth in 2009. JDHS was runner-up in ’07 and ’06. Since 2000 they have not been in the final game just four times.
JDHS travels to Sitka this weekend and they are loaded with experience.
The majority of the minutes for returners from last season went to Johnny Joyce (senior center midfielder) and classmates Adam Soto (midfielder) and Colin Zheng (center back) and junior Jackson Lehnhart (left wing).
Goalkeeper Max Lyons now has a full time role. Last season he kept the net zone clear while all-state goalie Taylor Lehnhart mended from an injury. Now this season he will be called upon to keep zero scoring tolerance across the goal.
“He is one of our strengths,” JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart said. “Those five players have the most minutes. We are definitely not coming into the season like we did last year. A lot of these players, as really strong juniors, only got limited minutes because we were that strong.”
That strength saw graduate Riley Paul playing college at Whitman, Nathan Foscett at Whitworth, Taylor Lehnhart at Quest in Canada, Max Smith at Walla Walla, and Adam Nesheim at Peninsula.
“One expectation for Crimson Bears soccer is that, as a freshman, you have a chance to develop and learn the right way,” Lehnhart said. “I think the expectation was you were eventually going to play in a state final if you put the time in. Our motto, though, is ‘We go one, we go all’ and that started years ago. It means that all that matters at the end of the day is the team, that you won’t get anywhere unless you put your own effort out there and work.”
The JDHS team also packs a tattered old tin lunch box to each game. A player is awarded that lunch box for either his play, or support.
The player that receives it, takes it home, puts something in it and brings it back to the next game. It has become a superstitious part of the Crimson Bears team, and a coveted honor.
“It is important to the guys,” Lehnhart said. “They love to put stuff in it. I have a box of things that have been put inside from the past winners.”
JDHS also has a reputation around the state as playing hard, with no yellow cards, and being competitive.
There offense is a creation from Lehnhart’s many years of coaching. It is a system that allows for playing a lot of players with a lot of subbing on the outside of the field. The system requires too much effort from the outside players but in the end leaves the team fresher at the finish. The set is kind of a 3-4-3, or a 3-2-2-3, keying on a target player and putting a lot of players in the midfield.
“That will be the big question this season,” Lehnhart said. “Can we get away with three backs again and being able to run the target player.”
Lehnhart stated that senior Darien Stanger, injured last season, will be called into duty for that target position.
Seniors this season also include Heston Allred, Peter Bellagh, Eric Bookless, Randon Calderwood, Edric Carrillo, Oliver Coleman, Jericho Cristobal, Martin Gjerde, Ilkka Ketteunen, Hunter Kirkpatrick, Javier Magallanes, Thane Maxwell, and Jacob Sanders.