A lot of schools looked good in their moment under the Friday night lights at New Boston Stadium so without further delay, here is a look at area soccer teams:
Last season the Falcons made sure that a share of the SOC II title stayed in Scioto County, splitting the championship with Waverly after an 18-3 campaign.
Jake Hackworth and Duncan Jordan are among the players returning to lead the Falcons.
This season the roster is a little smaller but coach Theresa Havens said the ability to compete remains the same.
"I know we don't have the depth that we had last year but we do have the heart and the determination," she said. "We only have three seniors coming back with any varsity experience but of course we only have one freshman as well. Mainly it's the sophomores and juniors that are carrying the bulk of our team."
The Falcons know that repeating as co-champs, or more preferably taking an outright title, won't be easy in the SOC II.
"I know that this is going to be a good, evenly matched conference this season," Havens said.
Waverly may have won a share of the SOC II title last season but they will have a new coach.
Brian Roseberry was a junior high coach last season and takes over a talented team with lofty goals.
"We don't want to lose any more than one game and we think we can win the SOC for sure," Roseberry said. "We have Chillicothe on our schedule who is really strong this year. Not that we plan on going into that game and losing, we hope to go undefeated."
The Tigers lost some to graduation but Roseberry expressed confidence that his young players would perform.
young players would perform.
"We're pretty young...," he said. "We start three or four seniors and the rest are juniors and younger."
Waverly did not compete in the previews.
The Pirates ended last season 13-4-2, finishing behind Waverly and Minford in the SOC II. Their run extended to the district final where Minford won in overtime.
This season the Pirates will depend on four returning seniors; Kyle Brooks, Cole Miller, Tyler Ratcliff and Chris Allen. Junior Brad Whilte is playing for the fist time this season but will be counted on to play goalie.
With a lot of talent on the team, expectations are high.
"I see us, Waverly and Minford fighting it out for the SOC II championship," said Wheelersburg coach Paul Boll, who is entering his 23rd year of coaching Pirate soccer.
"We ended up a half game out of the conference championship last year," Boll added. "Waverly and Minford tied for the lead and we were a half game back. If we had scored one more goal in any of three games, we would have shared the title. It was that close."
Wheelersburg opens the regular season Aug. 25 at Northwest at 6 p.m.
Three victories in a season isn't a landmark for many programs. Still the first of three wins West picked up last season broke an 0-34 streak and showed the program is headed in the right direction.
Even with talented players returning, including Ryan Middleton who scored the Senators' lone goal Friday, coach Scott Davis was keeping expectations in check.
"Our expectations are to be at .500," Davis said. "I'm not trying to be the SOC champ. I'd just like to be at .500 this year. We build our program every year and in a couple of years I expect us to be SOC champs."
West has six seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen.
The Mohawks struggled at times in 2008 but are hoping for a strong season in 2009.
Hank Leslie returns in the goal and Chaise Hall and Mark Moore are back as well.
Northwest has eight seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores and just one freshman.
Northwest won its preview match with Clay 4-1.
The six-time defending SOC I champions return six starters to a team that has no intention of relinquishing its position at the top.
"Expectations are high," South Webster assistant coach Brenton Cole said. "We look to push the boys hard this year; come out strong and try to get a good draw for tournament. We don't want to think too far ahead but that's our main goal, to do well in the tournament."
Cole said the league could be strong with New Boston and Clay fielding solid teams. He also said the addition of Eastern to the league could make things interesting.
"That was a new wrinkle too so you never know what they might break out," Cole said. "Never know what might happen."
South Webster returns Braden Ruth and goalie Wes Loop among others.
The Eagles are competing in their first year as a true varsity squad in the SOC.
Last year the newly formed team compiled a 5-7 junior varsity record but their goal this season is more modest.
"It's going to be rough to get a win but we're going to try," coach Rich Holloway said.
Eastern has numbers with 21 kids on the roster, but the issue will be experience.
"For over half the starters this is their fifth month playing soccer," Holloway said. "It's going to be a learning experience for all of us."
This is Eastern's second go round at soccer. The school started a team in the 1980s that won two games in three years.
After a 4-9 campaign last season Clay coach Joe Conkel wants to see his young team develop.
"Our expectations for this season are for our younger players to get more experience," Conkel said. "That's what is hurting us right now."
Clay's squad boasts no seniors but does have eight juniors. The upside is that the young players will get a chance to test themselves early.
Conkel said on Friday that some Panthers were out injured but he expressed confidence that the team will at least equal last season.
"Once we get our kids healed up and such, we'll hang in there," Conkel said. "We'll get four or five wins this year."
New Boston went 6-10-1 last season but this year is looking to compete with the Jeeps.
"We're going to go in expecting to compete," Tigers coach Jon Estep said. "Obviously South Webster has kind of controlled our conference for the last six years since I've been here. I think we have some talent that can go up there and compete."
The Tigers have a mixture of new and returning talent.
"We're a mix (as far as experience)," Estep said. "We have a few freshmen that will step in and play important roles for us... We do have some solid seniors — three of them who have been two or three year starters for us. We don't have any four year starters back."
New Boston fell 2-1 to Minford in its preview match.
Mike Kitts will be another first year coach in the SOC this season.
The former West assistant will lead a Valley squad with six seniors and five juniors.
On Friday, Valley looked strong, earning a 4-2 victory over West.
"Our kids came out and were prepared to play," Kitts said. "We got them in there and we got some goals right off the bat."
Kitts is hoping the good start Friday is just the beginning.
"We're going to go our and we're going to win and play hard," Kitts said. "I'd like to have a winning season and see what we can do from there. I think we're going to be competitive this year in the conference. I'd like to win it. We're going to be ready to play.
PDT staff writer G. Sam Piatt contributed to this story.