McALESTER — Neither the McAlester Buffaloes nor the Lady Buffaloes finished their inaugural soccer seasons with winning records in 2013, and that was against a piecemeal schedule of smaller schools and junior varsity teams. Now officially in a 5A district, the 2014 Buffs and Lady Buffs will play seven games against 5A schools and two more against 4A schools.
Some might call that a disadvantage, but new McAlester soccer coach sees it as opportunity.
“I don’t think people are expecting what they’re going to see,” Jones said Tuesday.
“A lot of it, when you have a brand new program, is gaining the confidence to even compete.”
Jones said both McAlester teams will use 4-4-2 alignments. That means four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards.
That alignment, Jones said, allows the Buffs to stay fundamentally strong on both offense on defense. It also allows forwards like senior Mason Bumphus and sophomore Taeam Kang to use their speed.
Bumphus mainly played goalkeeper for the Buffs last year. Kang is new to McAlester soccer, Jones said, but not to the sport itself.
“He isn’t scared of the ball, but with his speed, we’ve moved him up to forward right now, and (he’s done) a great job,” Jones said of Bumphus.
In the midfield, look for big contributions from freshmen Jacob Nooner and Ra’Shaud Buie. Nooner will be a center-midfielder, while Buie has been spent time at both wing and center-mid.
“Nooner has great feet,” Jones said. “He’s an experienced player, so that helps us in the midfield. He also can see a play that needs to be made when others wouldn’t be able to.”
Jones said Buie “is like a little lightning bolt.”
Cameron Vigil, a freshman move-in from Colorado, could spend time as both a midfielder and defense. Eduardo Suarez, another senior, is expected to round out McAlester’s defense at wing.