The Kanawha Valley had a banner season last year for boys and girls soccer.
The Valley had teams playing in all four boys and girls championship games with Charleston Catholic (Class AA-A boys) and George Washington (AAA boys) bringing home titles. Sissonville (AA-A girls) and Winfield (AAA girls) lost in their championship bids.
In all, Kanawha and Putnam County squads accounted for six of the 16 schools competing in the state tourney in the four divisions (AAA boys and girls and AA-A boys and girls). Hurricane (AAA boys) and Nitro (AAA girls) also made the semifinals.
Here's a quick look at those teams and a few others in the Valley as teams approach this weekend's season openers:
If there's any pressure, the Fighting Irish don't seem to be showing it.
"Our practices have been very loose,'' said Catholic coach Sam Fox, whose team finished with a 23-0-2 record. "Every time we take the field we know we're going to get someone's best game. I don't think the kids would want it any other way.''
Catholic will lean on seniors Sam Revercomb, Adam Fox, Domenic Cippollone, Luke Smith, Mitchell Stanley, William Scriptunas and Tanner Whipkey. Revercomb, who was tied for the second-most goals in the Valley with 22, Fox, who added 19, and Cippollone, a defender, were coaches association first-team all-state selections.
Juniors Philip Mallory and Noah Cable and senior keeper Mitchel Thorsteinson will move into the starting lineup.
"They have played together since they were 10 years old,'' Sam Fox said. "They know each other very, very well.
"I think the fact all five of those guys are good friends will help us out this year. Last year is going to be hard to live up to. I'm seeing some of the younger players step up. I think we'll certainly be competitive.''
"We're pretty much starting from scratch again although I think we have some quality players that will be able to step in and keep the program alive,'' said Patriots coach Tom Hopper. "They'll give people some fits I think.''
Those are senior midfielder Garrett Horner, senior Caleb Barnette, who will anchor the defense, and junior keeper Garrett Phillips, who was the backup last year.
"I think there's been a lot of enthusiasm,'' Hopper said. "A lot of guys are fighting for a spot on varsity. It's been pretty intense. There's certainly a lot of potential there. I think the kids want to work hard and do well and that's probably half the battle.''
Seniors Alex White, Austin Conley, Trevor Cunningham, Evan Miles and Ian Miles and sophomore James Snavely return to starting positions. Seniors Daniel McKnight and Mark Schiffour, sophomore Loran Meadows, who started several games last year, and juniors Alex Kayuha and Nick Young will slide into the starting lineup.