The Payson High School boys soccer team turned in one of the finest seasons in program history, but next year, coach Chris Avakian will be forced to rebuild mostly due to the loss of 15 seniors who graduate in the spring.
Some schools have the depth in their programs to simply reload with seasoned veterans, but Avakian says his task will be a rebuilding process as he scours the campus trying to find players with varsity talent and desire.
Of those players set to graduate with the class of 2013, Division IV coaches have honored seven for the stellar play during the past season.
Bubba Nielson, Jeffrey Kelley, Guillermo Lopez, Noe Vega and Logan Morris were named to All-Division first team and Isom White and John Buskirk received honorable mention.
Vega, Lopez and Morris are all repeat honorees, having been named All-Division last season.
Nielson, the team’s leading scorer, played forward where he provided the points the team needed to reach the state semifinals the past two seasons. Nielson, 5-foot, 9 inches and 150 pounds, also shines on the PHS basketball team and is a high jumper on the track squad.
Jeffrey Kelley might be best known for his exploits on the highly successful Longhorn golf team, but this past season in soccer he proved to be a force to reckon with, playing midfielder and forward.
Lopez, a midfielder, has been a vital cog in the Longhorn offense for three seasons. Among his finest efforts in 2012 might have been his overall solid play in Payson’s state first-round come-from-behind overtime 3-2 win over Camp Verde.
In that nail-biting victory, Vega also played a huge role, scoring two goals in regulation that erased the Cowboys’ 2-0 lead and seemed to spark a Horn team that had previously been mostly lackluster.
Morris, a defender and the 2012 homecoming king, paced the Horns to a 0-0 early season tie against two-time defending champion Blue Ridge that end the Yellow Jackets’ 57-match winning streak.
All-Division honorees were chosen in a computer voting of D-IV coaches.