MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 27, 2014

Soccer reveals its stripes: Fort Gibson juniors earn boys and girls MVP

Leadership is a quality in an athlete that can’t be coached.

It’s also the word that first pops out of the mouths of Fort Gibson’s soccer coaches when talking about the 2014 boys and girls All-Phoenix Most Valuable Players – Johan Chavez and Jordan Raynor.

“Johan is a quiet kid,” said boys coach Todd Friend. “He lets his play speak for himself and doesn’t get upset. He’s the epitome of a student athlete – he’s always doing the right thing.”

Chavez led the Tigers in goals scored with 13 on the season, two of which were the game-tying and winning goals in Fort Gibson’s 3-2 victory over Oologah which put the Tigers into the Class 4A semifinals for the second straight season. Chavez also finished with eight assists this year and Friend feels that’s Chavez’s strength.

“He’d rather be an assists guy than a goal scorer,” Friend said. “But when the time is right, he comes through in the clutch. He’s not looking to be a superstar, but he just quietly scores  goals.”

Ask Chavez about the key to the Tigers’ 12-5 Class 4A semifinal season, and he points out that playing together as a unit was of upmost importance.

“We have a lot of very good guys on the team,” Chavez said. “Everyone helps one another. I think what made me stand out was the hustle of everyone else.”

What made them successful most of the year is what the junior captain says was missing somewhat in the semifinal loss, and he says it just goes to show that it has to be done every step of the way to get the Tigers that elusive state championship.

“We’re going to have to click,” he said. “I feel the past two seasons, we haven’t played out A-game in the semifinals or all of us weren’t in the game. I feel once I get all my teammates to be able to click and play lights-out soccer all 80 minutes, we’ll be able to pass the ball and move on the field and not get lazy.”

Chavez is so intent on improving his game that he has decided to forego his senior year as a kicker on the football team. Instead, he plans to concentrate solely on soccer by playing club ball during the offseason.

“He’s talented enough to get a college scholarship,” said Friend, who doubles as the kicking coach for the football team. “But right now when you’re playing soccer and you’re looking for a scholarship, they don’t really look at the high school ranks. Jordan’s looking to get on a club team out of Tulsa to get to go to some of the showcase tournaments.”

Raynor’s leadership was evident as she repeated as the All-Phoenix girls soccer MVP. The junior forward led the Lady Tigers in goals with 20, two shy of her 2013 total, and added five assists.

“It’s hard to put into words the value she has for our team,” Lady Tigers coach Jaime Snyder said. “She is one of the most athletic kids I’ve coached in any sport – basketball, soccer, softball - she’s very quick. But her instincts for the game of soccer are what she pushes. She knows the game and knows what she wants to do with the ball before she gets it.”

The Lady Tigers made it to the 4A championship game in 2013, losing to Verdigris 3-0, Even though the Lady Tigers fell short of another berth in the state finals by losing to Verdigris in the quarterfinals by the identical score, Raynor believes this year was better than last year.

“This year we were more of a family,” she said. “We played together and looked out for each other.”

Winning the MVP honor for the second straight season is, as Raynor put it, a confidence boost. She can focus on the success of the team while also trying to achieve some personal goals.

“I have 43 goals and the most that anyone has scored at Fort Gibson is 72 and that’s what I’m shooting for,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to make it but that’s one of my main goals.”

While players get a lot of the credit for the success of the team, some credit should go to the coach. In the case of Muskogee boys coach Shawn Riley, the 2014 Phoenix Coach of the Year, he believes it’s the players that count.

But give Riley due credit for not only bringing about an elevated discipline but also success to the Muskogee program. In his second year, he led the Roughers to a 7-4 mark and their first postseason berth in four seasons, falling to Jenks 5-1 in the first round.

“I’m proud and excited but on the other hand, it’s about the boys,” Riley said on receiving the honor. “We have a great group of kids. They’re all excellent players and excellent in the classroom – just positive young men.

“I thought there were some games last year that the boys played pretty well in, but the record didn’t reflect the level of play,” Riley said. “This year, they had some things go their way.”

Riley’s best coaching job may be next year. The Roughers lose 12 seniors and that experience will be hard to replace.

“Any time you have a large number of seniors, it’s always tough to replace kids like that,” he said. “The desire to be successful is going to allow us to train a little harder and have higher expectations of success. We have an opportunity to be more athletic next year and we’re going to continue to be one of the top tier teams in the state of Oklahoma.”

Also making the team:

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