Amid the setting sunset and quickly vanishing daylight in Pomfret last week, the McDonough High School boys soccer team and its coaches made the long trek to the parking lot with the promise of success offering a sterling backdrop.

The Rams have only been moderately touched by graduation and should be in contention for another Class 1A South Region title this fall. Head coach Mike Deeds does not have a genuinely loaded squad, but he has a handful of seniors and a good group of juniors and sophomores.

"We really didn't hit too hard by graduation," Deeds said. "We graduated five starters, but we have a number of kids back who got valuable playing time last season at the varsity level. We actually had to make cuts this year. We're still carrying 18 on varsity and 22 on junior varsity, but we had so many kids at tryouts we had to make cuts for the first time."

McDonough seniors Jake Burgess, Luke Lyddane, Frank Porovne, Tony Springmann and Zac Wagner will be joined by juniors Francis French, David Glorioso, Emmanuel Grant and Nick Saoud, younger brother of former Rams soccer player Elizabeth Saoud, her senior class valedictorian. Deeds is grateful for the quantity and quality of his players.

"We have been fortunate to have so many kids who want to play soccer here," he said. "We have also had a lot of really smart kids come through the program. We're still the smallest school in SMAC, but we have been able to hold our own against many of those bigger schools. Some of them, like Leonardtown and Huntingtown, usually gives us a tough game. But we're right there with the other teams in our conference."

McDonough athletic director Pam Thornton has been very commendable of the job that her fall sports coaches have done in recent years, noting the school's small enrollment figures have not directly translated into difficulties on the field against school's with much larger enrollment numbers.

"We have a lot of really great kids in the school and our coaches have done an amazing job," Thornton said. "Both our boys and girls soccer programs are defending region titles and many of those same students also play lacrosse in the spring where they have also won region titles. We're definitely the smallest school in terms of enrollment numbers, but we have a lot of dedicated, talented kids here at McDonough."

McDonough boys soccer will open the season Saturday at Southern High School in Anne Arundel County then will kick off the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference portion of its schedule on Tuesday at Calvert. The Rams will then host Great Mills on Sept. 13 and Chopticon on Sept. 16 before heading to Northern on Sept. 19 and returning home for games against La Plata on Sept. 24 and Thomas Stone on Sept. 27.

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