Core group returns for Bluejackets boys’ soccer

Hibbing/Chisholm’s Payton Taylor dribbles the ball during a home game last August.

HIBBING — The Hibbing/Chisholm High School boys soccer team lost some valuable players to graduation last year, but the cupboard won’t be bare for the Bluejackets.

Hibbing/Chisholm coach Joe Edman has some solid returning players in the mix, which bode well for success during this strange 2020 season.

Returning for the Bluejackets will be Alex Chacich, Grant Price, Payton Taylor and Payton Forer, who is the goalkeeper.

“We lost a couple of key players, but we have our core group back,” Edman said.

Alex and Grant finished out the season solid. Payton, he won a couple of games for us, and we have Forer back. We got a lot of praise for him last year.

“It’s looking positive. They’re nice players.”

Everything will hinge upon how the newcomers to the lineup perform.

They will have to acclimate themselves to the style of play at the varsity level.

“We have a lot of newcomers,” Edman said. “Our main point of emphasis has been focused on fitness primarily, trying to get our cardio work in. They’ve been doing two practices a day, so I haven’t been pushing them much.

“They’ve been to early-morning conditioning, then we do ball work in the afternoon. A couple of the newer players have said they feel like the muscle memory is coming along quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing how we do in our first game.”

Edman did gain a couple of athletes from the football team, which should help with depth, but replacing Hunter Carpenter will be the big challenge.

“Skill-wise, we lost our star attacker, but we’ll be fine as long as these new players step up,” Edman said. “Some of them are football players, so they’re athletic. They should be able to do the job, but it takes time to develop touch.

“As long as they have they have the drive, they will pick it up quicker than if they hadn’t played football, or if they weren’t athletes.

“It may take them a couple of weeks to get a good touch on the ball, but I have high hopes. As long as they put their best foot forward and try their best, they will learn.”

Like every team, how Hibbing/Chisholm manages what the COVID-19 pandemic throws at them, the better it will become.

“One of the goals that we picked out early on was to cooperate,” Edman said. “We want to adapt and we want to respect each other. Those were the three key words the first day of the season.

“We want to adapt to anything COVID throws at us. We want to adapt to game changes, season changes. We only have 11 games this season. A lot of the players have bought into that, and we started on a positive note of them being able to play, that will contribute a lot to our season.”

Edman said he can’t put a number on the wins or losses his team might put up this year because of all the question marks surrounding this season.

“As far as wins or losses, it’s hard to say,” he said. “I don’t know what type of teams we’re going up against just because of the pandemic. They’re going to have changes and from what I”ve seen, they’ve adapted well to them, even wearing masks. They’re good about that.

“We have to treat our practices like games. We can’t just focus on the games. We only have 11 games, so our focus has to be on the practices, too. If we practice like we play, we’re going to be a hard team to beat. That’s the key.”

Edman wants his players to have a positive experience on the pitch.

“It’s a lot of work, but once you get out and see them enjoying the sport, this is all worth it,” Edman said. “No matter what we have to go through to get the season in, we want to make sure the seniors finish out their careers with a valid season.

“We want to make sure the freshman and seventh- and eighth-graders learn how to play. That’s all important.”

With no postseason at the moment, Edman has other goals in mind to keep his players motivated.

“The goal for them is to enjoy playing for the sake of playing, not looking out for a state tournament,” Edman said. “The other goal is to keep themselves in shape for future seasons.”

Especially for the freshmen who made the varsity squad this year.

“They’re going to have a rocky start to their high-school career, but if they look at it from a cumulative perspective, and they see how far they’ve come, they will have a positive outlook on it,” Edman said. “It’s building off of that.

“I don’t want them to focus so much on where they started, but more on the years in the future they’re playing toward.”

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