Head Coach Louie Bettencourt and his Hilmar High varsity boys’ soccer team is coming off a stiff season last year where his Yellowjacket team managed to win only two games during the year.
Since then, the 'Jacket supporters have moved on and left the 2014 fall season behind them in the rear view mirror, especially Bettencourt and this year's squad which looks promising.
“Our first goal is to make the playoffs because last year was so depressing to where we want to take those baby steps and I really believe we will make it into the playoffs,” said Bettencourt.
In order to make the playoffs in the tough Trans Valley League, the 'Jackets must look to compete with Riverbank (7-1), Ripon (6-2) and Escalon (4-4), all of which finished ahead of Hilmar (2-6) last season.
To make matters even tougher, Modesto Christian and Mountain House will join the TVL this season, adding depth to the league.
However, that is the last thing on Bettencourt's mind. He has been working with his team and prepping them for a competitive year.
“I really hope to build off last year since now some of our guys got that experience last year so those are big factors,” he said. “We were in a lot of games last year but we just made some mental mistakes and that cost us games because there was not a lot of experience with the young team that I had.”
Now the team returns more experienced after a year of varsity play under their belt. The defense will be led by goalkeeper Francisco Lepe who has been highly praised by Bettencourt.
“Francisco is just a big factor for us,” said Bettencourt about his goalie. “He has great size and is an aggressive player, he is very important and vital to our success that we are looking to achieve.”
Backing up Lepe will be Joshua Martinez, Miguel Avila and Captain Michael Cardoso, who has proven to be a leader on the pitch.
Freshman Brian Millan is also on the varsity roster with plenty of club experience, Bettencourt said.
“I think we will have a lot of ball handling skills, we should be able to dominate the ball,” Bettencourt added.
The Yellowjackets first game will be at the Pitman Tournament which begins on Aug. 28 at the Pitman soccer fields.