Broncos make WBHS boys soccer history –
By Wade Linville –
This year’s Broncos have reached an end to what has been an exciting and successful fall season on the soccer field, making their mark in Western Brown High School sports history as the school’s most successful varsity boys soccer team.
This year’s Broncos were the first to claim a Southern Buckeye Athletic/Academic Conference American Division title since the start of the Western Brown High School boys soccer program in 1998, and they would finish their season with only two losses with an overall record of 13-2-4.
The Broncos’ season would end in the Southwest District Division II Sectional finals, where they fell to Wyoming in the battle for a sectional title at Milford High School on Oct. 24.
The Broncos entered sectional tournament play as the No. 5 seed and after claiming a 4-0 win over No. 15 seed Blanchester in round one of the sectional, they would move on to claim a narrow 2-0 victory over the No. 8 seed Hornets to earn a berth in the sectional championship at Milford High School.
The Broncos dominated the first half, controlling the ball well at midfield with sophomore Austin Coffey and junior Zach Knight scoring goals to give the Broncos a 2-0 lead.
The Hornets came out firing in the second half after making some wise adjustments at halftime break, but excellent defensive performances by Bronco senior Gabe O’Hara, senior Tanner Shasteen, sophomore Wesley O’Hara, Knight and sophomore goalkeeper Sam Linkous would prevent the skilled Monroe team from scoring a single goal.
“We didn’t control the middle very well in the second half because of the adjustments they made, but the main thing was that I don’t think our aggression and our effort wasn’t what it was in the first half,” said Western Brown head coach Bobby Kuntz. “Our defense has been the rock of what we’ve accomplished all year. They’ve come up big in every instance they’ve needed to. In 18 games they’ve only given up eight goals, so they’ve been solid.”
For Linkous, the Oct. 20 sectional win marked his 13th shutout of the season as Western Brown High School’s record holder for single-season shutouts.
The Broncos outscored their opponents 46-8 going into the sectional championship bout at Milford on Oct. 24, where they faced No. 4 seed Wyoming.
The Broncos would suffer was what only their second loss of the season at the hands of Wyoming, suffering a 2-0 loss to finish as a sectional tourney runner-up.
The loss at Milford marked the end of successful soccer careers for Western Brown seniors Gabe O’Hara, Aaron Partin, Drew Willoughby, Jake Zinkhen, Tanner Shasteen, and Colin Kursim; whose final varsity game at Kibler Stadium/LaRosa’s Field was the Oct. 20 win over Monroe.
Juniors on this year’s Western Brown varsity soccer squad included Austin Schweitzer, Colston Roades, Dillan Scarpinski, Joran Hamblin, and Zach Knight.
Sophomores on this year’s Bronco varsity squad were Afton Dixon, Wesley O’Hara, Austin Coffey, Austin Kirk, Blake Hurt, Chase Easterling, Joey Kinder, Noah Hiler, and Sam Linkous.
This year’s Broncos were the first ever Western Brown High School varsity boys soccer team to bring home the SBAAC American Division title in the program that started in 1998.
They would finish with an impressive overall record of 13-2-4 and a league record of 7-0-3 as the most successful Bronco varsity boys soccer team in school history.
“It feels great to see what the boys have accomplished this season. When we began open fields in late March, it was very clear that we had a talented team with lots of depth. The one thing we talked about over and over again was how we could become the first boys team to win a league title if we put in the work. I am so excited and proud of this group of guys because they took that challenge and have accomplished something that will never be forgotten. They deserve every bit of this success,” said Kuntz, the Broncos’ first-year head coach. “It is a little more special for me personally as well because I played in the program and I can see how far it has come from when I was here. The league was very tough this year, and that made us really have to focus on every individual game instead of looking past anyone. Something we talked about quite often was staying in the moment and always thinking about what we could do to set ourselves up to win. It also took quite a lot of effort on the practice field each and every day, but all of that time was enjoyable because these boys are fun to be around. They understood that even though we had to work hard when we were between the lines, it was okay to enjoy what we are doing and have some fun, as well. I think the boys enjoying coming to practice each day was one of the keys to our success this season.”
Kuntz also credited some strong supporters who played roles in the Broncos’ success this season.
“There are a lot of people that deserve credit for supporting the program throughout the season. Our administrators in the high school, Mrs. Heather Cooper, Mr. Tim Cook, and Mr. Jeff Herrmann, were absolutely great to work with all season. Their support as we pushed toward our goal was amazing! Our Goal Club also deserves a lot of credit for everything they did for the boys throughout the summer and into the season…setting up fundraisers, feeding the boys on game days, and organizing team get togethers, among many other things allowed the coaching staff to focus solely on what was going on on the field. All of the parents were fantastic, as well. Getting the boys to everything and supporting myself and the coaching staff was hugely important to how successful the program was this season. My coaching staff also deserves praise for their work this season. They were extremely supportive to me as a first year head coach, and I appreciate everything they did. I would also like to mention the efforts of the program’s previous coach, Kyle Fender. Coach Fender put in a lot of hard work for many years with this group of boys and all of that hard work really boosted the program. Lastly, I have to thank my family for all of their support and help. Specifically, my very understanding wife who takes care of everything during the season since I am away quite a lot. Without her support and love, I would not be able to do this job effectively.”