In his 24 years of coaching, Chris Walker has seen just about every kind of roster combination there is. He’s no stranger to coaching experienced, veteran squads, or young, up-and-coming ones.
That’s why the head coach of the Cedar Ridge boy’s soccer team is approaching the season leading a youth-filled team with hope.
“I’m excited about a young team that is coming in this year,” Walker said. “We only have a couple starters coming back who started a significant amount of the season last year. We had some that were in and out. A lot of young guys. Guys that are going to be put into roles as starters as underclassmen and kind of excited to see how’s it going to turn out to be.”
“I’ve always found that it’s not necessarily the wins and loWalker has a reason to be patient and optimistic about his charges. Having coached teams in four different sports in 24 years in Orange County —JV boys basketball, boys soccer, cross country, track and field—and at four different schools—Stanford Middle School, Orange High School, Gravelly Hill Middle School, Cedar Ridge High School—Walker has plenty of experience to draw from when looking at his current roster.
sses that determine the success of the team but it’s the growth of the individual players and how they go into it being a team, as well,” Walker said. Just the growth you have from beginning to end.”
One area of growth Walker says he wants to see from his team this season is its movement as a defensive unit for the full 80 minutes of game time. He wants to see every player, from his forwards to his defenders, flowing well together on the defensive side of the ball.
Walker got his first chance to see how his team does in such a game situation Saturday, when Cedar Ridge scrimmaged against three other teams.
He wanted to use the time to find more starters to pair with senior midfielder Brandon Garcia, who he says will be “a player to look out for moving forward.”
“Brandon Garcia has a good chance of making All-Conference this year, so he’s done well over the years here,” Walker said.
The scrimmages gave Walker’s players their first opportunity to face off against unfamiliar competition in 2019, since they have only practiced against one another so far. The head coach hopes to see players step up and make the most of their playing time.
“Get the defense going well, can we look to score, did we take advantage of opportunities and mistakes that another team makes of the three teams that we’re playing this weekend,” Walker said ahead of the scrimmages.
Cedar Ridge kicks off its season Monday night at Eastern Alamance at 6:30 p.m. against a team that has beaten Walker’s club two years in a row.
Walker hopes to see a positive showing from his team to get its confidence up before entering a tough conference slate that includes Chapel Hill High School, East Chapel Hill High School, Orange High School, Southern Durham High School and Northern Durham High School.
He wants to see his team take each game one step at a time as a way to ease the pressure for a young squad.
“Just build that momentum to get into the conference season and hopefully we can make some noise there, which will help to determine if we get a shot at making the playoffs later this season,” Walker said.