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Brian Rathjen/NT Sports Editor

Atlantic’s Beau Dickerson (11) defends against this kick by Underwood’s Ryan Caughey during the Trojans’ Iowa Class 1A substate quarterfinal Monday night in Oakland.

ATLANTIC — A new coach and a new system always brings growing pains for an athletic program.

Not playing a sport competitively for two years also figures into things, and changes to the off-season – few if any indoor practices – have also been a factor.

“We’re learning as we go,” said first-year coach Matt Smith.

But there is quite a bit of good news for Smtih: Ten seniors, including nine who return from the Trojans’ 2019 team.

Beau Dickerson, the team’s leading scorer from the 2019 team, headlines the Trojans’ soccer hopes for this spring. An honorable mention all-Hawkeye Ten pick two years ago, Dickerson had a team-best six goals and four assists.

Dickerson should get some support from a number of juniors, including Tristan Mathisen, Lee Houser and newcomer Nathan Pobanz, a transfer from East Sac County. Pobanz’s brother, Timothy, scored a pair of goals during the 2019 season; Nathan took three shots in a reserve role, but will be looking for a bigger role here.

Also back after having seen extensive experience as sophomores are Devin McKay, Keegen Garcia, Keaton Juhl, Devin Wood and Devlwne Sunderman. Others who are back are Aiden Rink, Jarrett Smith, Alex Somers, Joe Sonntag, and Devin Wood; they’re joined by newcomer Ethan Williams.

“We’ve got a lot a guys who have some experience, but we haven’t played in two years,” said Smith.

With Dickerson at forward, the initial lineup could see – per VarsityBound Iowa – Garcia, Juhl, McKay, Rink and Sunderman as defenders, and Somers, Smith and Williams as midfielders.

Ford is a junior who could also work his way into the lineup after seeing time as a freshman.

Sonntag and freshman Tyrell Williams will be battling for goalkeeper, with Williams likely getting the starting nod.

“We’ve got some guys that are coming back with experience,” said Smith. “We’re trying to change some of the things we do in practice and have some options for setup that we’ve been running, and our kids are starting to figure that out.”

Hawkeye Ten Conference play doesn’t really get underway until the last part of April. Smith said that Council Bluffs Lewis Central, the 2019 state champion in Class 2A (but is competing this year in Class 3A), will be the favorite, but Glenwood and Harlan are also expected to be good.

“We’re shooting for the middle of the conference. There’s some teams out there we know we can beat, so we’ve set a goal for two conference wins,” said Smith. “Our big goal is to have a winning season, go .500 or above.”

The Trojans participated in a scrimmage last week with West Central Valley, which the Wildcats won 7-0. The Trojans begin the regular season tonight with a non-conference contest at Carroll. A boy-girl doubleheader with Missouri Valley on the road follows on Tuesday.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.

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