Despite losing graduates who scored more than 60 goals a season ago, the Powell High School boys’ soccer team still returns key talent from a loaded 2022 roster — and the squad is still …
Despite losing graduates who scored more than 60 goals a season ago, the Powell High School boys’ soccer team still returns key talent from a loaded 2022 roster — and the squad is still looking to compete for its first state championship.
Heading into this year’s campaign, the Panthers’ strength will be at the back, led by two returning seniors: All-Conference goalkeeper Holden Cooper and fullback Steven Stambaugh.
Powell returns more experience at the back with Jacob Orr and Logan Jensen, along with some depth from last season.
“Jacob [Orr] does a great job controlling things at the back,” coach David Gilliatt said. “Every single player we have in our back line is experienced and understands the system. Holden [Cooper] is a senior and is going to be a leader back there as well, and he has always come up big for us.”
Despite returning All-State selection Chance Franks, the Panthers will be searching for some answers in the midfield and up top.
“I think a lot of my guys will be able to fit in multiple positions. We will move guys around a bit,” Gilliatt said. “That’s OK, I like to throw different things at opponents. I don’t expect to have one guy in the same position all season long in the midfield and attacking positions.”
The coach said that flexibility will allow him to experiment with players in different positions before seeing what works the best for the team.
“We only lost 52 goals between two players and 60-plus between seniors,” Gilliatt said jokingly. “That’s obviously a dilemma. I don’t know if we will score as many goals as last year, [but] I’m OK with that. The goal is not to run the score up — the goal is to win.”
This year the Panthers will be competing in a rebalanced Class 3A West conference, with Green River joining 3A and Riverton moving up to 4A.
That shift also pushed four-time defending state champion Worland to 3A East, so in a change from past years, the Panthers and Warriors aren’t scheduled to face off in the regular season.
“I always like to see opponents before we play them at state, but we will work with what we have,” Gilliatt said. “We are going to try and win the conference and then we will try and win the state tournament.”
Powell’s first game was set to be played Saturday in Pinedale, but was rescheduled to March 30. It’ll be tacked on to a long weekend trip to Mountain View and Lyman on March 31 and April 1, respectively.
That means the first action for the Panthers will be next weekend, also in Pinedale, where they will take part in a tournament on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25.
“There’s a little bit of restlessness that is going to take place. We were kind of gearing up for this Saturday,” Gilliatt said. He said the team may schedule an intrasquad scrimmage for Saturday in place of the postponed game.
Gilliatt said the delay is “not ideal,” but will be OK.
“I don’t mind a little more time to prepare,” the coach said.