LHS soccer program making cuts for first time Jernigan will trim roster this week

By Israel Potoczny The Daily Record israel@lebanondailyrecord.com

<span>Lebanon head coach Matt Jernigan has a unique situation on his hands this fall — he’s making cuts.</span>

<span>For the first time in recent history, the LHS soccer program has more players out for the team than it needs. Jernigan said 40 players are out this week, including a large senior and freshman class. And while he isn’t thrilled about the idea of having to tell a player they won’t be needed, the fact that he has more players out for the team than he needs is a testament to how far the program has come in his seven years at LHS.</span>

<span>Just three years ago, the ‘Jackets didn’t have enough players to field a junior varsity.</span>

<span>“It is definitely a different scenario for Lebanon and it is a good problem to have for sure,” Jernigan said. “I think the past couple of years there has been some excitement. In the past, not too many people knew about us, and if they did, they just knew we had been a losing program and hadn’t won a lot of games.”</span>

<span>But last season, Lebanon turned the corner and put together a 10-11-3 season.</span>

“We beat some teams that people didn’t think we would and it kind of got around the school that the soccer program is getting better,” Jernigan said. “The kids had a chance to come out and play, and a lot of kids have joined us that maybe wouldn’t have in the past.

<span>“And we have a big freshman class.”</span>

<span>Lebanon has 10 freshmen out, including five from Joel E. Barber, and Jernigan said several of the ninth-graders have a background in the sport.</span>

<span>For the first time, Jernigan has held a tryout this week and will be making cuts.</span>

<span>“We have been getting some data on skill level and where the kids are at coming off the summer,” Jernigan said. “We’re hoping to stay around the 35-38 range.”</span>

<span>Jernigan is also working on a new line-up after senior standout Nick Wappelhorst went down with a broken collarbone at the Missouri Show-Me games. Wappelhorst could miss 4-6 weeks due to the injury, and Jernigan has shuffled the lineup in his absence.</span>

<span>Moving from the backfield to a forward position is senior Cody Cates, a fast and athletic player.</span>

<span>“He is pretty excited (about the move), he has been back in the defense for the past three years,” Jernigan said. “With Nick out we are going to put (Cates) up top and let him run. He is one of the most athletic kids in the area, a track star, just a really good athlete.</span>

<span>“I think he is going to cause some problems with his speed and his physical play. He is a big, strong kid.”</span>

<span>The first week of practice has also been devoted to conditioning and getting acclimated to the heat.</span>

<span>“We have had a majority of the kids out throughout the summer, practicing with us, so the heat hasn’t been too much of a distraction,” Jernigan said. “I think the boys have been ready for it. But we are trying to get our legs under us and get our conditioning level up before the first week of games.”</span>

<span>Lebanon will open the season with a jamboree on Aug. 15 at Camdenton. LHS will face Bolivar at 4:45 p.m., followed by a match against Parkview at 6:10 p.m. and Camdenton at 7:55 p.m.</span>

<span>Each match will be a 25-minute contest.</span>

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