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boys soccer preview: Ads a state title contender: Culbreth

Farragut boys soccer Wallie Culbreth doesn't soft-pedal his team's potential in 2007: “Is this a potential state champion team? Yes,” said Culbreth, whose teams have finished in top five statewide each of his first five seasons as FHS head coach.

Scoring punch potential is off the charts with a pair of All-state forwards working together — seniors Jake Russell and Ben Backstrom, leading the 2006 offense and a big part of the Admirals' state tourney trek last spring.

“Nobody else has got two [Division I college level} forwards,” Culbreth said. “I don't know anybody that has any better two in the whole state.”

Talent-wise, Culbreth said Backstrom and Russell are “comparable” to talent “up-top” on his 2003 and 2004 state champion teams [and 2004 national champs]. However, “I think they have a lot to prove to be as good,” Culbreth said.

Senior Adam Greene, a back-up goalkeeper in 2006, takes over the net-minding. Good enough for Division I, Greene is expected to sign with Marshall University Friday, March 16. “Greene's a great goalie,” Culbreth said. “Last year I had two great goalies. ... He's an unbelievable keeper when he's on.”

Senior All-state sweeper Nic Paolucci returns, as does defender Joseph Muth, “a starting defender on the national finalist [Olympic Development Program] team,” Culbreth said. Mitchell Ishmael and Tyler Mottern fortify the defense.

Along the midfield, senior Tyler Swift returns, as do seniors Kevin Underwood and Robert Fisher. Senior Brendan Cook, a transfer from Virginia, also plays midfield. "He brings a new look ... he's a welcomed asset," Culbreth said of Cook.

Naming a pair of team strengths, “I have a wealth of depth I haven't had since the two thousand three and two thousand four teams,” Culbreth said. “And we are a fairly quick team.”

Concerns? “I guess, living up to their potential,” Culbreth said. “We don't have a lot of weaknesses, but we've got to come to the table with our best game every game, because everybody that plays us thinks they're playing their Super Bowl.”

Other players hoping to contribute are Jon Beaver, Trevor Grieco, Drew Hemeter, Aaron Stinson, Kyle Beltran, Travis Bolton, Josh Grossbard, Jake Holt, Jonathan Chancey, Josh Riner, Dylan Whitman, Will Beuerlein.


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