The Home team.
As tradition dictates, the first real action we take in for #StickStarReport is always at the Jesuit Invitational. It truly is the kick off for Pre-Season action even though some teams are about to start counter games as soon as this week. The Jesuit Invitational once had teams from Austin and Houston, but, as teams play more inter-district games, it has turned into a public school, round robin of sorts, hosted by the 2x defending State Champs, the Jesuit Rangers. The one, out-of-town team that made the annual trek was Jesuit New Orleans to engage in what is always a great tune up for their regular season. Another difference in this year's tournament is the D1 vs. D2 landscape. In the past, many of the top D2 teams have played, jockeying for Pre-Season supremacy. In 2018, though, most of those teams have moved up to the Division 1 ranks. The teams participating included:
D2 & Out of Town
Of the current teams, all but Jesuit and Coppell have recently been moved up to the D1 level. Now the D2 teams are outnumbered by the D1.
While we didn’t lock it in for every single game of the tournament, @StickStarHype and @StickStarLax were out there taking in the sights for the @StickStarReport. We strategically picked out a handful of games that would give us some accurate understanding of where teams fit in the PreSeason puzzle. The key word after the weekend is parity, except for one squad. Here are some of the games we took in on Sunday with some thoughts on each:
Two talented Public Programs.
Coppell vs. Rockwall – Coppell came out strong in this one and never looked back. For the Cowboys, Reese Walker is the primary focus, but a trio of juniors make a physical statement on offense. The Bivens Bros and Brandon Point are all big and athletic, and have the ability to test mismatches. At the faceoff X, Reece Reynolds was fairly dominant and gives the Cowboys a decided advantage in most draw situations.
Rockwall had a very strong outing on Saturday posting a big win against Flower Mound but struggled to find offensive consistency early on. Dylan Brunk and Preston McMahon are going to have to carry much of the offensive load up top, while sophomores Hunter Roberts and John Burton will have to provide value down low. Needless to say, when you graduate the most talented class in program history that helped bring you a D2 title, there will be some growing pains. The talented coaching staff in Rockwall will get these guys going, but they will have to stay healthy. Coppell ended up getting the best of Rockwall in this one.
FM went up on Prosper early and kept it going.
Prosper vs. Flower Mound – Prosper vs. Flower Mound was another solid match-up. Right now, Flower Mound looks good. They have capable players at every position and have been practicing / competing for some time. Prosper played well but had a noticeable scratch, junior LSM Luke Teigen. He would have helped immensely. Defensively, Flower Mound makes things difficult with junior Brady King in cage and the senior tandem of Vinny Ianiero and Sammy Cambere who can be stifling at times. We saw Ianiero get to the rack several times, even registering a bucket. Finally, on offense, juniors Andrew Hetrick and Preston Cole registered goals against Prosper, as did several other players. Flower Mound tallied this victory.
McKinney vs. Jesuit – This was our first opportunity to see the 2x defending State Champs, and this may be their most potent offensive unit in the history of the program. They are big, strong, move the ball with mid-season form, and are a match-up nightmare. McKinney had some flashes of brilliance coming from a trio of sophomores including Wesley Wheat in goal, Cameron Johnson at the midfield, and Gavin Wilson at LSM. At the end of the day, Jesuit just had too much as they took this one 13 to 4.
A Key Celebration.
HPD2 vs. Prosper – This is one game we thought would be particularly intriguing. While both squads were missing players, these teams are relatively comparable in terms of their division 2 hierarchy. HPD2 was paced by a strong infusion of young talent, which is usually the case. The defensive unit was led by Spencer Borrego and Andrew Bonnett, while on offense Brooks Bond, Ford Frazar, Alex Kashata and Harrison Key looked very solid. Key turned the corner twice lefty, making it look relatively easy. At the midfield, junior Jack Baldwin also looked like a solid contributor. For Prosper, Hayden Stout and Zane Williams did a considerable amount of the heavy lifting. The Eagles have some decisions to make up the middle as goaltending and face-offs need to be tightened up due to graduation and injury. Also adding value on offense were Jared Brock and Cole Schmitt. HPD2 secured this victory with a late run.
A little two man action behind between Jack Tabor and Tommy Hovivian.
Jesuit vs. Coppell – The final game we took in Sunday had two of the top teams at the tourney compete. Both teams came in at 3-0 looking for one more, solid contest. To get the game going, Coppell’s Brandon Point had a great assist and a solid finish, keeping the game close at 2s. Reece Reynolds (Coppell), again at the FaceOff X, was crucial, but, as Jesuit got key stops, the possessions started to take their toll against the Cowboys. The 1st line, Jesuit midfield group is an absolute terror, and Jacob Jackson may have scored upwards of 6 goals in the contest. The real X Factor for the Rangers may be senior midfielder Marshall Ellison. The kid is an absolute monster, who moves well and cannot be guarded by any mere mortal man. If he decides to vary his shot placement, he will be unbelievable in his senior year. The Rangers kept pulling 6-foot plus players off the bench, including a freshman who will get plenty of notoriety in his Jesuit career, Sam Teachout. We’ll break Jesuit down further in our team previews in the coming weeks, but, needless to say, they are loaded!
This weekend was great. Sunday’s weather was perfect for PreSeason action. We have missed the sound of the whistle, parents giving their point of view, and players chirping. #StickStarReport18 will bring you all the coverage this year, and we are pumped. This Friday, February 2nd, we kick of StickStar Productions coverage as we will be on the MIC bringing you live LSA / MCLA action! TCU vs. USC should be awesome!
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