“It may not come this year, but we’re building for the future,” he said in a recent interview.
There has been a big increase in soccer interest at Walker Valley, with 28 players turning out for the 2011 boys’ team.
Bayliss and assistant coach Jeff Porter are optimistic about this season, after the Mustangs posted a near “even” record last year. Walker Valley lost four starters to graduation from a year ago, but have 12 varsity members returning, with five starters.
“We have 28 players this season, and a lot of promising youth,” said Bayliss.
“I think we’re going to be better than last season, but we’re still building,” the Walker Valley coach added. “We have several quality young players this season with hopes for the future.”
Bayliss said the team’s apparent strengths are speed, fitness and quickness, with depth and ability at goalkeeper.
The team’s projected starter at goalkeeper, sophomore Brad Hoffner, is currently slowed with an injury, but the Mustangs do not lose anything with senior Blake Patterson. Patterson is a tall, talented goalkeeper in his own right and was impressive in the team’s season-opening win against Sequatchie County.
Bayliss, who has coached the Mustangs for the past seven years, says it appears Walker Valley could be in an up-cycle for soccer. “We could surpass what we’ve achieved in previous years,” he said.
He said that to improve the program’s success, Walker Valley must be able to play with the more talented teams in District 5-AAA, such as Cleveland, Soddy-Daisy, McMinn County and Ooltewah. He feels the Mustangs, Bradley County and Rhea County are all trying to move up to the league’s higher echelon.
Coach Bayliss expects sophomore Caio Hysinger and senior Zach Carroll to step up and be among the team’s top scorers this season. This is Hysinger’s first try for the Walker Valley soccer team, while Carroll is an experienced veteran but sidelined by an injury.
“On defense we’ll be young, but we expect some defensive leadership from junior Sammy Almazan,” said the Mustangs’ coach. Bayliss also anticipates strong leadership from the team’s four seniors, which includes Carroll, Brandon Justice, Andrew Sherlin and Patterson.
Other Walker Valley starters are expected to be junior Josh Coleman, junior Corey Kraft, freshman Wesley Pace, freshman Adam Rodriguez, sophomore Jake Vincent and sophomore Jesse West.
Other varsity roster members are Junior Daniel Bulba, goalkeeper Brad Hoffner (sidelined with an injury) and junior Marcus Houston.
Also on the roster, with many destined for junior varsity competition, are sophomore Brayton Bird, sophomore Brandon Dupuy, sophomore Joseph Flores, sophomore Logan Helton, freshman Raul Hernandez, junior Ammar Khalid, junior Joseph Lawson, freshman Denny Opp, sophomore Bronson Patrick, sophomore Jake Taubert, freshmen Matthew and Michael Willey.
Managers for the Walker Valley soccer team this season are Christian Rice, Kenzie Morris and Angela Craft.
The Mustangs had preseason scrimmages with McMinn Central, East Ridge and Tyner, prior to the season-opener and a 3-1 win against Sequatchie’s Indians. Walker Valley has Signal Mountain for its second match, before jumping into District 5-AAA play against East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, McMinn County, Cleveland, Bradley Central and Rhea County.
With a deep roster possessing speed and quickness, Bayliss is expecting a good soccer campaign this year.