By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Tom Davidson didn’t stay retired for long.
The Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach, who retired following the Ozark boys’ soccer fall 2019 season, is back on the sidelines – this time with the Springfield Catholic Fightin’ Irish.
“I missed coaching,” said Davidson, who has a career coaching record of 851-360-71 with stops at Kickapoo and Ozark as both boys’ and girls’ coach. “Catholic has a great tradition built by its former coaches and players.”
And Davidson has had to hit the ground running, after being named the head coach on July 1. He is tasked with replacing five seniors from last year’s 16-6 squad, which finished as the Class 3 District 5 runner-up, falling to Glendale 3-2 for the second-straight year.
Gone from the 2021 team is a highly decorated crew, including Carson Morgan, Ashton Vinton, Braedon Henley, Keanu Baguio and Zach Rogg.
• Carson Morgan, defender – Named first-team all-state, all-region Defensive Player of the Year, all-district Co-Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Big 8 Conference. Now playing at Drury University.
• Ashton Vinton, forward – First-team all-state, all-region, all-district and Big 8 Co-Player of the Year.
• Braedon Henley, goalkeeper – First-team all-conference.
• Keanu Baguio, midfielder – All-region, first-team all-district and all-conference.
• Zach Rogg – Second-team all-conference.
The Fightin’ Irish have four seniors and three juniors to lead the way this fall.
• Gage Vehr, senior midfielder – Earned second-team all-state, all-region and first-team all-district and all-conference honors.
• Kaden Kellerman, senior defender – Second-team all-conference.
• Drew Stufflebam, senior midfielder – Second-team all-conference.
• Braedon Fritz, senior goalkeeper.
• Kydon Huttenlocher, junior, midfielder – Second-team all-district and all-conference.
• Rian Mulherin, junior defender – First-team all-district and all-conference.
• Eric Fuentes, junior – Second-team all-district and all-conference.
“The boys took care of the summer sessions, mostly on their own,” Davidson said. “The senior boys stepped up and led the sessions. I was only able to be with them for the last two weeks, but it was very beneficial.”
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In that short time, Davidson said he has been impressed with his team’s unselfish play and team-first attitude.
“They have been very receptive to our coaching and the transition of having new coaches,” Davidson said. “We have never been tied down to a style (of play). We teach certain principles you can use with all styles, but it will be based on what we feel enhances the players’ abilities and strengths.”
Catholic will be heading north to Kansas City to participate in a jamboree at Pembroke Hill with Liberty North and Harrisonville, before opening the season at home against Springfield Central on Aug. 26.
“We should be very tough, defensively,” Davidson said. “This program has always been held to a high standard, so we’re just trying to carry on the tradition.”