Clearly, the McConnellsburg boys soccer program is in pretty good shape.

The Spartans were 15-4 and 18-2 in their last two seasons, and, although they lose several key players from this year's team, there is still a good core group left over. And coach Cory Houck believes there is some good young talent on the way.

Houck is the architect of the McConnellsburg revival. In his four years, the Spartans have gone 51-22-3, and he has been named the Public Opinion Coach of the Year.

He is a 2003 graduate of McConnellsburg, and an IUP graduate, who coached the eighth-grade team for one year before accepting his current post. Houck believes his staff has made some positive moves to help the Spartans get better.

"I have a great staff -- Chris Mellott and Jake Corral -- and we're trying to get more modern with how we coach and how we train," Houck said. "We do a lot of agility drills and we try to have a more possession style of play, and I think it's starting to pay off."

Spartan ace Jake Boehme said, "I like the way the coaching staff works it. Cory works with the offense, Chris works with the defense and goalkeepers, and Jake helps us with our agility and quickness."

It worked in 2015. McConnellsburg won the Sideling Hill League title with an 11-1 record and reached the District 5 Class A semifinals before getting upset 3-1 by Berlin.

Houck said, "I think the overall record exceeded expectations, because we knew there were some tough league games to get through. Early in the season, Jake scored a goal in overtime to beat Everett up there and that got us rolling. We got a great effort from the guys in that game and that set the tone for the season.

"But we were disappointed to not get to the district championship game -- we thought we had a team that could do that. We just gave up a quick goal and then struggled."

The Everett game might have been the team's most exciting win, but the game on Homecoming against rival Fannett-Metal -- won by the Tigers 3-1 -- was not lacking for atmosphere.

Houck said, "It was such a great crowd -- we never expected that kind of turnout. It was pretty neat except for the result. Of all the games to lose ..."

Houck is married to Danielle and they have a 3-year-old boy, Bennett, who is already kicking a soccer ball around. Houck is currently spending as much time as he can at home to make up for when he's coaching.

"You need to balance your coaching with your family," he said. "I want to keep coaching, but it goes from May to November so you have to spend time in the off-season with the family."

And he's looking forward to more good things for the Spartans.

"I think we have a good junior high program and there's some nice talent coming up," Houck said. "I think the boys should be in pretty good shape for the next eight to 10 years."

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