Clovis High junior Jennifer Gross (foreground) hits the deck as she tries to defend against junior Jordan Garrett during Lady Wildcats soccer practice on Tuesday at Yucca Soccer Complex. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Clovis High junior Callie Rush is just happy to be back on the soccer field.
Rush missed virtually all of the 2004 campaign after suffering a torn ACL and LCL during the Lady Wildcats’ season-opening invitational.
“It stunk really bad,” she said of having to sit out the season.
Rush, who began her varsity career as an eighth-grader, is part of a deep junior class which third-year coach Larry Jones hopes will bring the program back to respectability after several lean seasons.
“I think we can do it,” said Rush, a forward. “We’ve played together since pee wees, and we know how each other plays.”
The team began two-a-days on Monday, preparing for its season-opening invitational Aug. 26-27.
Jones welcomed about 35 candidates for the team, including just three seniors.
“We still have a long way to go,” he admitted. “Last year I said we were young, but this year I think we’ve gotten even younger.”
He said the juniors will be counted on in a big way.
“Hopefully, they can come along,” he said. “They’ve been playing together for a long time. They’ve probably got more experience than everyone else on the varsity level.”
One of the top juniors, Kela Williams, has moved with her family to California. She filled in at goalkeeper on last year’s team, and the Lady Cats are looking for a replacement.
“We’re kind of struggling with that,” Rush said. “The ones we have there don’t have a lot of experience.”
The Lady Cats haven’t won a District 4-5A match since 2002, when they edged Hobbs in overtime at home. Rush was in her first season on the team at that point.
Doing well early would set a good tone, she said.
“I think we need a win just to prop everybody up and get their confidence going,” Rush said. “I think we have a chance of making the playoffs if we all stay focused.”