By Chris Chaney
The senior-laden New Richmond Lions boys’ soccer team is seeing the fruits of its labor manifest itself halfway through the 2013 season as the Lions find themselves atop the Southern Buckeye Conference table with seven regular season games remaining.
“We have some very strong senior leadership,” head coach Doug Flamm said. “Some kids that have been with us for all four years are providing that leadership to play hard. We also have some strong underclassmen who have been pleasant surprises.”
At 4-2-3 overall and unbeaten in the SBC at 3-0-1, the Lions have shown that they have the look of a team that could dethrone perennial SBC titleholders Amelia.
The Barons have won the league every year since joining the SBC in 2010. New Richmond’s last league title came in 2007.
The Lions opened their season through the last two weeks of August, defeating Western Brown and Norwood while drawing with Madeira and Goshen and suffering their lone loss to Finneytown.
Since the calendar turned, New Richmond has one again filled up each column on their record sheet, securing wins over Blanchester and league rival Amelia, drawing against Bethel-Tate and dropping a 4-2 loss to interdivision foe Batavia.
The backbone of the Lions surge to the top of the standings has been the 10 seniors on Flamm’s roster. None have been more important than the three co-captains, Michael Huber, Chris Sammons and Tyler Klein
“(Huber) plays with a ton of heart,” Flamm said. “(He plays) defensive sweeper, center mid, anywhere I need him. He’ll go up top for me. He’s that kid that says, ‘wherever you need me coach, I’ll go and give you everything I have.’
“Chris has stepped up into a positive leadership role this year and also plays sweeper. He’s a hard worker. (Klein) always plays hard, also.”
Those three seniors have a network of fellow fourth-years to assist them as well including Zachary Fields, Colton Farmer, Noah Chaney, Will Hayden, Tristan Williams, Adam Slade and Jacob Ryan.
The up-and-comers that Flamm mentioned earlier have also provided a youthful spark to the Lions’ lineup, specifically in the form of AJ Hobbs, Clayton Farmer and Grant Anderson, freshmen all.
Flamm was aware of the potential of this year’s team coming into the season and up through this point, they have not disappointed.
“Expectations haven’t changed,” Flamm said. “We have a very talented team. Just trying to get that team chemistry to come together has been the hardest part.
“Win league, of course, is always our first goal and then see if we can’t get seeded again in the tournament and try and make a good run in the tournament.”
That first goal requires two good runs of form through the Lions’ SBC American Division. With the first of those two runs completed successfully, Flamm and his squad have a pair of games against Felicity-Franklin and Clermont Northeastern on Sept. 19 and Sept 24, respectively before running a gauntlet of five straight league games to close out the season.
“Amelia and Bethel are always tough,” Flamm said. “Bethel’s got a couple kids up top who are very fast. Western Brown has also made great improvement. But, those two teams — Bethel and Amelia — are always tough, we always get up to play each other.”
As for that second goal of getting seeded in the sectional tournament draw, Flamm will find out if his team did enough on Oct. 6 at the seed meeting. Sectional tournament play is slated to begin on Tuesday, Oct. 15.