MINFORD — Caden Banks made his Minford mark by being on the defensive, and was consistently close to his band of fellow Falcon soccer seniors.
Now, staying close by, Banks hopes to become a key piece among the tight-knit Knights — as the Minford standout senior defender, during a recent signing ceremony at Minford High School, officially announced his intention to play collegiate soccer for Kentucky Christian University.
Flanked by his fellow Falcon teammates, along with his family members and head high school coach Dave Gampp, Banks became the latest Scioto County student-athlete to commit to Kentucky Christian — a member of the NAIA and the National Christian College Athletic Association.
Banks, a two-time first-team all-Southern Ohio Conference Division II defender, said he chose KCU “because of how close the team is there”.
He said the brotherhood bond he hopes to have with the Knights outweighed interest he received from other programs, including Cedarville.
“The team is super close and they are together all the time, which makes them even closer. A main part in a team is the chemistry and how well they work together. Kentucky Christian just stood out above the rest, because of really how close that team is and how close the coaching staff is with the team,” said Banks. “I think that should stand out a lot.”
And it does.
The Knights — located in Grayson, Ky. — are coached by Jeremy Miller, who is known for first developing his freshman players at the midfield position.
Banks could start or remain there, and/or eventually move back to the defensive front.
“Hopefully, I will start at midfield, because that’s mainly where he (Miller) puts his incoming freshmen. He likes having an experienced defense, so gradually I would go back to being on defense,” he said.
Banks is familiar with such a position transition under Gampp, as he was a Division III second team all-Southeast District defender as a junior —before climbing the ladder to first team all-district as a senior.
“Caden has been an extremely strong asset for us the last two years. We actually had some injuries on the team his junior year, which forced me to move him back to defense, but he took a position that most people don’t love straight on and gave it everything he had,” said Gampp. “He pushed his limits, he has exceptional speed, and he used that ability to really help us out defensively for the last two years. He really stepped it up, he is really physical for his size, and became an extremely good defensive player. He kept us in a lot of games for two years for sure. I can count many times where he literally saved a goal for us, because he beat that one-on-one and took the ball instead of the guy getting a shot off. He’s going to be extremely missed in our program, but I know he loves the sport of soccer, and I am excited for him playing close to home and at the next level.”
He also overcame injury his freshman campaign, and played primarily midfield as a sophomore.
The five-foot, 10-inch Banks added that he took pride in playing defense, and that the Falcons’ goals against average improved in his two seasons along the back line.
He said like an offensive line in football protecting its quarterback, a defensive unit in futbol must be in sync in guarding for its goalkeeper.
Along with Charlie Neal, Jacob Lewis and fellow senior Tyler Borders, the Falcons’ four back — Banks said — “held that line really really well” in front of Falcon starting keeper Jesse Cantrell.
“Playing defense was something I was super proud in doing,” he said. “In those two years, we gave up the fewest goals in my four years here at Minford. I was proud of what we did not only individually, but as a whole. We only had 13 goals scored against us all season last year (2020).”
Only Wheelersburg, which advanced all the way to the Division III state semifinals, scored more than two goals against the Falcons in any singular match.
Banks said he plans to major in Biology and Pre Med, “and going on somewhere else after”.
But he enjoyed his time at Minford, and is excited about his next opportunity as a tight-knit Knight.
“I wish Minford the best, and I am excited for the next four years and what it’s in store at Kentucky Christian for me,” said Banks.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved