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EC persevered despite its hardest season ever PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Buchberger   
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:30 PM

ST. LEON – As sports seasons go, they don't get much more difficult that the one faced by East Central boys varsity soccer in 2012.

As they were boarding the team bus to head for their Class 2A sectional championship match Oct. 6, Trojans learned of the fatal auto accident involving junior midfielder and co-captain Jacob Amberger.

With heavy hearts, coach B.J. Black's EIAC champions (10-0, ninth in 10 years) summoned up the strength to pull together – as it had already in an injury-wracked campaign – to capture its 12th sectional title in school history, 2-0 over Jennings County the following Tuesday.

“Jacob was pretty amazing,” said Black of his 17-year old center midfielder – whose jersey number 17 will be retired next season.

“He went from a kid who never played a minute on varsity the year before to being voted captain and becoming one of our best players. The kids looked up to him and fed off his energy. It was a huge loss for us, in terms of his leadership as much as his play on the field. It will be felt well into next season and afterward, no doubt.”


League coaches thought enough of Amberger to include him in the All-Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference team voting, paying tribute with a posthumous honor.
Considering all they went through – including the loss of the other top center mid, All-District senior Cody Spragne (two goals, 10 assists) to an MCL knee injury in the last three weeks of the season – Trojans performed amazingly well on the field.

Their 14-4-2 finish stands as a tribute to one solid program, especially since there were those who thought 2012 would be a down year, talent-wise.

“We weren't picked to be real good, truthfully,” said Black, now 155-29-13 in his 10 seasons as head coach. “But our kids stepped up and did very well. It was fun to watch them getting better during the season. Considering that we never had all our intended starters on the field one time during the season, it was pretty incredible. Everybody had to play different positions. Against Columbus North (4-0 loss Sept. 12), we had to start three reserve players who'd never been in a varsity game.”

EC graduates five seniors, headed by Sprague, who earned all-conference and all-district despite missing the last chunk of the schedule. Also gone is EIAC Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Lachenman, along with midfielders Chad Sanders (two goals, three assists), Dustin Pruitt (four goals, eight assists) and Jacob Bischoff (five goals, four assists).
Returning, however, in good shape to begin another run at league and sectional titles, will be a strong nucleus of junior letter-winners, led by conference offensive MVP and leading scorer Sam Burns (17 goals, two assists), along with goalkeeper Jake Zengerling (76 saves, three shutouts).

Junior defenders Keith Batta and Devin Richter are back, along with third-year mid Tryston Zeiser, a spot player, and Dillon Bergman, who played only eight games before going out with a knee injury.

East Central's touted freshman class was called on to step in sooner than expected this fall, and filled the bill well, with mids Nathan Schmeusser (six goals), Grant Williams (six goals, two assist prior to injury) Joe Brush (started all 20 varsity games) and Jacob Lee all playing regularly.

New talent will be forthcoming from coach Steve Newsom's 10-2-3 reserves and a strong freshman crew.

“We had 7-8 freshman who were all real good this year,” Black noted. “We've got a lot of talent back. There's a good possibility we could be starting four sophomores and two incoming freshmen next year.”

Life will go on for East Central boys soccer, with only some slight change due to the EIAC's expansion from a six to an eight-team league, adding Connersville and Rushville.

Next year's league schedule drops the home-and-home format, clearing the way for EC to add new quality opponents Ryle (Ky.), Covington Catholic and Cincinnati LaSalle