High school soccer: Carson boys preview
Coach: Ken Correll (4th year, 12-44-2)
Key returners: Jaxon Wheeler, Alonso Reyes, Marco Garcia
Key losses: All-county players Kevin Vasquez, Alex Ortiz and Ernesto Jamarillo
2018 record: 4-14 overall, 2-8 North Piedmont Conference (5th)
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Ken Correll is a successful businessman in the corporate world, but no matter how many hours he puts in, he’s always found time for soccer.
“I started playing soccer when I was 4 years old,” said Correll, a 1990 graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High. “The biggest joy of my life is teaching soccer, teaching the beauty of the game.”
Correll, 47, has a ton of coaching experience relative to the young coaches who have launched rebuilding projects at East Rowan, West Rowan and South Rowan. He’s coached soccer more than 20 years.
He’s coached the game in lot of places and as far away as Washington state. He’s coached just about every age group and skill level.
“I’ve coached everything from 17U club teams to YMCA toddlers,” Correll said. “There are pros and cons for every age group, but I’ve enjoyed all of it.”
Correll has coached both genders at Carson. He piloted some good Carson girls teams not long ago.
He’s been coaching Carson’s boys since 2016. Success has been tougher to come by with the boys.
Talent cycles, and Carson had its last powerful team (20-2) in 2015 with players such as Ricky Maldonado, Danny Nava and Correll’s son, Colton. Carson won two playoff games that year and was ranked eighth in 3A by MaxPreps.
Since then, it’s been a tough grind for the Cougars — 5-13-2, 3-17 and 4-14 — although Coach Correll is confident the program is ready for a competitive fall in the 3A North Piedmont Conference. The Cougars have a solid group of seniors. The junior group behind them is not large, but Carson is welcoming a host of promising ninth-graders.
Jaxon Wheeler will be one of the senior leaders for Carson. He’s going to have a busy fall, competing in cross country as well as soccer. He ran on Carson’s winning 4×400 team in the Rowan County Track and Field Championships last spring and was fourth in the 400 in the North Piedmont Conference Championships.
Wheeler’s priority is soccer, but he plans to run in cross county meets when there’s not a conflict with soccer.
“He’s a really good runner,” Correll said. “He’s also taken on a vocal leadership role for our team this summer.”
Alonso Reyes provides a lot of the fire for the Cougars.
“Another senior leader,” Correll said. “Alonso gets excited. He plays with a lot of emotion.”
Marco Garcia, a senior goalkeeper, is also being counted on for a strong season.
Carson wasn’t awful at goal prevention last season, permitting 62 goals, about 3.5 per game. But the Cougars didn’t have much firepower. They scored only 25 goals. That meant a string of 2-0 and 3-0 setbacks. Carson was shut out in its last four matches.
“We’ve always been a defense-oriented team, but I do think we’ll have more offense this year,” Correll said. “We’ve got quite a bit of talent in the midfield. We’re looking at some different formations to take advantage of that talent.”
While Correll didn’t single out any of the incoming freshmen, he did say it ‘s an impressive group.
“They’re exciting and there are a lot of them,” Correll said. “Probably the best freshman class Carson has had in six or eight years. There are good building blocks in this class.”
Correll sees defending NPC champ South Iredell as the team to beat again.
“South Iredell is always good and Statesville always has club guys with experience,” Correll said. “But I do think our team, as well as West Rowan and East Rowan, can have a more competitive year against the Iredell schools.”
Carson split with West Rowan and East Rowan for it two NPC wins in 2018, with the Cougars taking the first meeting with both rivals, but dropping the rematch.
Carson’s non-conference victories came against Mount Pleasant and Robinson.
Carson will battle South Rowan in a non-conference matchup to start the season on Aug. 19 and will open NPC play on Sept. 30 at North Iredell.
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