Call them “Seaside FC,” as the Seaside High School boys soccer team begins the 2013 season.

“We’re taking some new steps in our varsity direction,” said new Seaside coach John Chapman, “in that we’re pushing this as a club, as opposed to a varsity/JV squad. We’re opening the door for more development of the younger kids coming up.

“With a very young crowd, everybody’s getting a chance to have a look,” he said. “I think we’ll be stronger in scoring this year and next. We’ve got some pretty talented young men who are going to surprise some people.”

The Gulls came within mere minutes of winning a Cowapa League championship in 2012. They didn’t get their league title, but first-year head coach Matt Johnson still managed to lead the Gulls to a strong 8-1-1 record and a spot in the regional play-in round.

Seaside eventually lost that one to Newport, but it was a positive step for a rebuilding program. And now Chapman hopes to pick up where Johnson and the Gulls left off last season.

“Chappy” becomes Seaside’s third coach in three years, but his familiarity with the program and the players. He has the Gulls one step ahead of the game, as they enter the new season.

“I’ve got a good connection and history with the middle school kids who have come up, and some of them are very good,” Chapman said. “I think Seaside was a better team last year than people gave them credit for, and I think we’ll go quietly about our work this year, too. We won’t ring our bell too loud, until we get a chance to prove it.”

THE LEAGUE

On Oct. 10 of last year, the Gulls held a 1-0 lead on archrival Astoria, late in a game at Broadway Field. The Fishermen spoiled Seaside’s victory plans with a late goal of their own, and that proved to be the difference between a league championship and a second-place finish.

Astoria went on to finish 8-0-1 in league play, while the Gulls finished 8-1-1. Another year, another league title for the Fishermen.

Astoria is expected to defend its league title, although Chapman reminds everyone that “the big question this year is that everybody lost their senior goalkeeper from last year. We’re going to see a lot of new varsity goalkeepers (in the Cowapa).

“It’s a very optimistic season,” he said. “I think all the teams in the league, especially Astoria, are playing some tough teams in nonleague action. We cross over with a couple of those teams, so that will give us an idea of where we stand when we get ready to play each other.”

THE PLAYERS

“Young,” Chapman said of the Gulls, who lost six key seniors off last year’s team, while another all-leaguer does not return.

The key group of returning seniors includes Sonny Davis, Soren Johannsen, Cameron Sorter and David Ward, while “I have some solid juniors and sophomores who are doing very well,” Chapman said. With a focus on defense.

“We’re solid in defense,” he said. “We’ve been working on that big time. We’re going to start with the foundation and work up.”

In goal will be either Ward or junior Sam Hinton.

“We’re not sure which direction we’re going to go,” Chapman said. “We have two very good keepers in David and Sam (Hinton). We’ll look at them in the nonleague games, and see what’s the best formula. We may see David out on the field quite a bit.”

The defensive line will include junior Shane Fritter and freshman Hunter Thompson (“he’s going to be a stud,” states Chapman).

Other varsity returners are junior Marshall Ferre and sophomore Taylor Barnes.

The strength?

“We have some speed,” said Chapman, whose team plays its home games on artificial turf at Broadway Field. “Almost everybody who played last year did track last spring, so we have a lot of runners and some speed out there.”

He added, “I’m very enthused. We had some good summer gatherings that were very positive. We’re a young team that will grow and learn together under the few seniors that we have. It definitely will be a young team that could surprise some people.”

Chapman’s assistant coach will be Thomas Robinson.

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