DOING THE TANGO

Junior Caleb Bayliss (left) and senior Adrian Silvestre collide while trying to win the soccer ball during the T-birds’ practice at Mohave High School on Wednesday evening. 

BULLHEAD CITY — Mohave High School boys head soccer coach Matt Camacho is mighty confident in his T-birds’ chances this season, even though their first game is close to four weeks away — Dec. 4 against the River Valley High School Dust Devils.

“It’s going to be a good year; I will be surprised if we don’t make it into the state tournament this year — I’d be absolutely surprised,” Camacho said while watching his club practice at Mohave High School on Wednesday. 

Camacho’s T-birds finished 10-3-1 overall, 5-0-1 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Grand Canyon Region and lost 5-4 to Shadow Mountain High School in the play-in game during the AIA 4A Soccer Boys Tournament at Mohave on Jan. 25.

Even though the T-birds lost irreplaceable graduating senior Sebastian Leyva, who earned Grand Canyon Player Region of the Year honors and is attending GateWay Community College where he is playing soccer for the Geckos this season, Camacho believes his squad has what it takes to do well without last season’s stalwart.

Camacho, who earned the Grand Canyon Region Coach of the Year award last season, is confident because he has first-team, all-region sophomore forward Josue Lizarraga, who scored 29 goals in 2017-18, returning following his fabulous freshman campaign.

“Lizarraga is in top form right now and as the year goes on I can see him even getting better,” Camacho said. “I can see him breaking the single-season record set by Kevin Vega, who scored 35 goals during the 2015-16 season.”

First-team, all-region senior goalie Renzo Perez, second-team, all-region senior defender Seth Perez-Velasco and center midfielder Eddy Romero, as well as second-team, all-region senior forward Alvaro Soto return from last season’s powerhouse team.

“There are some new people and some old people with the team, and I can’t wait until we get our chemistry together and have a strong season,”    Perez-Velasco said. “We work with the chemistry that we have with the old people with the new ones.”

Romero, who will be entering his third varsity season, said he has improved a lot during his T-birds’ career.

“I pick my head up, I communicate a lot and it is a whole different game now,” Romero said.

First-team, all-region defender Neil Ortiz graduated in May and will surely be missed, but the five-year Mohave head coach believes he has enough pieces to the puzzle to make a good run this season.

Forwards junior Axel Sandoval and senior Adrian Silvestri, will be “big pluses” for the T-birds, Camacho said. Soto is a “very smart all around player.”

Junior defender Caleb Bayliss and sophomore outside midfielder Hayden Allen have transferred from River Valley and will contribute, Camacho said.

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