It turns out Brian Killips can get pretty creative when the need arises.
The Evans High School boys soccer coach and assistant coach Joel Samaha reached a point this season when they realized they would have to be flexible.
That's because the Knights had tried numerous ways to score goals early in the season, to no avail. Killips had even inserted goalkeeper Jeff DuMond at forward.
"We had to take some risks," Killips said.
The risks rewarded the Knights with a successful season after a sluggish start: They made it all the way to the Class AAAA quarterfinals, winning two competitive games.
Killips is The Columbia County News-Times ' boys soccer coach of the year for implementing and overseeing these changes.
The Knights produced just a single goal through their first four games. Included in that bunch was a 2-0 defeat against Lakeside that all but decided the Region 3-AAAA championship way back on Feb. 26.
"We were playing well, we just weren't scoring," said Killips, who has coached the Evans varsity team since the spring of 2002.
The change started by moving senior Joe Rizner up from defense to midfield. Ian Rosas slid to the outside, while sweeper Will Wren moved to the forward position. It left the Knights with two completely new players in the middle of the field: freshman center midfielder Jeung Won Montoya and center back Kristian Lopez, a transfer student from North Carolina.
The two new faces in two of the most important positions on the field responded with strong seasons.
"We were almost a totally different team," Killips said.
The Knights had won eight of their final nine games going into a quarterfinal meeting with McIntosh. The previous game, Lopez shut down the state's leading scorer, Evan Scott, in a second-round win at Hardaway. Then, he played well while marking Class AAAA player of the year Josh Ball in a 1-0 defeat at McIntosh.
"I couldn't have been any prouder of the team after that game," Killips said.
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