SIDNEY — One of the toughest challenges freshman and first-year varsity players face in high school soccer is adjusting to the speed of the game. For Sidney High School newcomers, that goes for conditioning sessions, too.
And it’s about to get kicked up a notch.
To compete for a spot on the Yellow Jackets varsity team players must pass a fitness test. The main portion is running two miles in 16 minutes. Next year coach Jamie Fridley is considering changing the test from one mile in six minutes, then after a 20-minute break, another mile in 6:15. A mile in 6:30 follows another break.
“Our conditioning is our strength,” Fridley said. “We do a lot of conditioning especially in the summer. It’s the biggest culture shock to the eight graders that come in because they don’t realize how much running we do until they get here.”
As a result, the Yellow Jackets have the Miami Valley League’s Valley Division scrambling to keep up. Sidney (7-2-2), the defending division champs, leads the division at 6-2-1 overall. Xenia is second at 4-5.
Defense has been the catalyst for the Yellow Jackets. A strong back line of senior Jaden Humphrey and Badin Brewer and juniors Ben Savage and Landon Davis have complemented senior keeper Clay Boberg.
“Our back line is our strength. It always has been since I’ve been here,” said Fridley, now in his fourth season.
Offensively, senior Braden Guinther leads the team with 14 goals. Among the team leaders, junior Michael Koester has seven and junior Carson Taylor four. Senior Austin Kennedy has a team-high eight assists and Taylor has four.
Sidney has outscored opponents 31-17.
There’s a lot to like about the balanced Yellow Jackets. What is Humphrey’s favorite thing about this team?
“Probably practice, honestly,” Humphrey said. “I love to practice with these guys. It’s always a fun time. When we need to get down to business they know what to do. It’s a really good group of guys.
“I think the chemistry has gotten better. Jamie’s first two years was definitely a change. His coaching style has really formed and we’ve settled into it.”
Of Sidney’s wins this season, few have been bigger than those against rival Piqua. The Yellow Jackets beat the Indians 5-2 on Aug. 27 and 5-1 on Tuesday. Humphrey said Piqua snapped a long losing streak to Sidney during his freshman season. He hasn’t forgotten… and hasn’t lost to Piqua since.
“I remember my freshman year we had beaten them 18 years in a row and they beat us my freshman year” Humphrey said. “It’s our biggest soccer rival for sure.”
Sidney’s losses came state-ranked Tippecanoe and also Troy. Ties were against Butler and Fairborn. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 8 in Division I of the Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association’s area poll. With more Yellow Jackets playing higher levels of club soccer — and junior varsity coach George Miu’s work with middle school players — the program plans to be a fixture in the poll for seasons to come.
“It definitely feels good knowing I’m (graduating with the program) in good hands,” Humphrey said of setting the bar high. “I’m excited. I’ll definitely come back and watch a few games next year. … I see good things in the future.”