Host games Friday and Saturday, August 18-19
By Than Acuff
After falling in the semifinals of the 2A state tournament last year and losing 14 seniors, most of whom were starters, to graduation, the Crested Butte Titans were looking at the reality of a “rebuild” year this year. But after what he has seen during the first week and a half of preseason workouts, coach Matt Wilson has other plans in mind.
For starters, it helps to have a new addition to the coaching staff in Bradley Davies this year.
“We are incredibly lucky,” says Wilson. “He’s got the knowledge, he’s got the passion and fits in well. He’s a great addition.”
Then there are the players. The Titans do have five seniors to help guide what is overall a pretty young team with a handful of juniors and a large sophomore class who will be asked to step into varsity roles.
With that in mind, Wilson and the rest of the coaching staff are cultivating an ethos for the team to set the foundation for success as the season continues.
“The focus has been playing for each other, being accountable and developing a positive culture for the boys to set themselves up for success,” explains Wilson. “Create a culture where everybody plays for each other. I don’t think youth is a hurdle, I think our youth will galvanize the team.”
Playing for each other has started during preseason with forming a solid back line, a group of four that will work as one. And while still early in the effort, Wilson already likes what he sees as they appear to be picking up what Wilson and Davies are throwing at them.
“They’re playing for each other, it’s very refreshing,” says Wilson.
About the only main concern right now is the goalkeeper spot as both the starting goalie and the Titans back up keeper are injured.
“The goalie situation worries me, but these boys are determined and they’ll figure it out,” says Wilson.
The Titans have an abrupt start to their season as they open this weekend when they play two non-league games against programs from bigger schools. They kick things off with Basalt at 6 p.m. on Friday and then face Alamosa on Saturday at 10 a.m. Both games will be played at Rainbow field. While wins are always the focus of the program, it’s not the priority in the opening weekend of play.
“They want to win, they’re driven and hungry,” says Wilson. “I just want to see what we’re throwing at them come to fruition. This early in the season it’s not about wins and losses but more about creating that culture early in the season. There’s grit and determination in this group, they don’t know quit.”