HARDIN VALLEY — As Nick Bradford prepares for his second season as Hardin Valley Academy’s boys soccer head coach, he’s hoping to establish continuity and consistency.
“When I came in, these guys had three coaches in three years,” said Bradford who came from Heritage and inherited a proud program. “We had some good moments and we won a few big games last season.
“But we just didn’t have the consistency. Last year, I don’t think some of the older players really bought in, but these kids have come in and they have worked hard in training,” Bradford said.
“We have a lot of experience and we’re looking very strong on all areas of the field. These kids are eager to get started. I’m looking to establish some continuity and consistency. I knew, coming in, that these guys had three coaches in three years and I know that it was hard for them.”
The Hawks went 5-6-6 last season, and their journey through District 4-AAA was a roller-coaster ride. HVA knocked off longtime geographical rival and district and regional champion Farragut on the road.
Hardin Valley went 3-2-2 in the state so-called “District of Death” in 2017. At its best, it knocked off the Admirals in Farragut.
Bradford and his squad have lofty goals.
“Our goal is always to win a state championship,” he said. “We do want to win the regular-season district title. The top two teams get byes, so they won’t play until the semifinals.
“But you want to win the regular-season championship because we’ll have a much easier road to get to the region,” Bradford added. “You avoid facing Farragut or Maryville in [an elimination] game in the semifinals. This district has a three-headed monster at the top.”
Top players include: Cameron Niemeyer (senior, defender); John Klett (senior, defender); Ben Seaman (junior, defender); Cameron Jeske (senior, midfielder); Daniel Guthrie (senior, midfielder); Adam Grigsby (senior, forward); Ryan Hart (a senior goalkeeper who will start this year after being a backup last season); Isaac Stephens (junior, forward) and Angel Garcia-Perez (sophomore, forward).
The Hawks open their season Friday at the Baylor Tournament in Chattanooga against Southeast Whitfield (Georgia).
Bradford also noted he wants to see his team have fun playing soccer this season.
“You have to be sure to have fun when you play this game,” he said. “We can’t forget to have fun.”