Mauro Gonzalez

Then JCHS junior Mauro Gonzalez moves in between a Salina Central player to get the ball after it was passed down the field. Aggressive plays on both sides of the ball allowed Central to take the 4-3 victory as the Blue Jays open the season in 2020.

With 11 returning players – eight seniors – the Blue Jays are in position with talent, experience and hunger to have a historic season.

After a tough season last year due to COVID -19, only two games were won and not much growth was seen overall in competition.

The Blue Jays have their eyes set on flipping the script this season in what could be the most successful season for the program.

Allan McFarland, in his fifth year as head coach, says this senior class is ready to roll for this season as they have played the most varsity minutes and has the most experience in McFarland’s five-year tenure.

“A lot of these guys have been playing since their freshman and sophomore year,” McFarland said. “They have played in some big games for us. They have seen some tough losses. They have seen some close wins. These guys are pretty confident to lead, and hopefully get a few more wins in the column.”

“I have seen these guys ever since they were freshman. Some came around when they were eight graders. They have grown so much as people, and on the field. We can’t take these seasons for granted. Any time we get to play and be together, it is going to be fun.”

Junction City features two key team leaders: senior Mauro Gonzales, a two-year team captain, a four-year starter on the defense. Damian Michael, three-year varsity player forward, who McFarland says will need to score many goals this year for success to happen.

The best record a Junction boys’ soccer team has accomplished in history in 7-8-2 in 2010. No team has ever finished a season with an above .500 record.

McFarland prefers to not put a record expectation on this season, but he knows this team h winning as the potential to win games and competing, and that is what he is expecting this season.

“The past few years, our wins have been very small,” he said. “I just want to make sure we compete with (most of) our components. As we look at that 7-8-2 record. That is a record we want to shoot for. That is something that we keep in the back of our mind – there has never been a team above .500. That is obviously something we shoot for, but we take it game by game. Hopefully we just add (the wins) up, (and) hopefully get around to that number.”

If a winning record does happen this season, McFarland says the energy of the team will be “through the roof”.

“You go above .500, and that means you beat more than half of your opponents,” he said. “That is something a Junction City soccer team has never done. If our team did reach that level, I think we would deserve it. If we got to that number – it would be really special for the program.”

“(Our players) realize and they see, when we find those opportunities to win, some of those younger guys who have seen close victories. You know we are capable of doing it, and we compete with a lot of teams. We have tied a lot of games. We have lost games by one goal. It is just (about) trying to find a way to get over the hump. A lot of these juniors and seniors are hungry. They have experiences some of those tight losses. They want to be the ones to turn the clock a little bit and turn those close losses into wins. You look at a mistake here or there, if something would have gone a little bit differently, we could have potentially had won six, seven games last year. It is in our grasps, and I think they feel it and know it. Besides a few games on our schedule and there is some higher competition in 6A, there is no reason we can’t compete with any other team on our schedule.”

The season will begin on Tuesday against Salina Central.

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