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Prep soccer notebook: Wiles key to St. Albans success

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To be among the best in the Kanawha Valley a soccer team has to be one of the best in the state.

State champions from Kanawha and Putnam counties have become commonplace. Although St. Albans does not belong to the club of local teams that own boys state titles - Nitro (1990), Capital (1992, 1998, 1993), George Washington (2007, 2011), Charleston Catholic (2009-2012) and Hurricane (2012) - the Red Dragons have quietly made their way into the top 15 in the West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings.

The Red Dragons (4-2-1) have wins against Riverside, Capital, Lincoln County and Teays Valley Christian. St. Albans' two losses were an 8-4 offensive slugfest with Parkersburg and a 4-1 defeat at Woodrow Wilson (the tie was against Ripley).

Senior Jack Wiles has played a big part in the Red Dragons' early-season success, already surpassing his 2012 team-leading total of 12 goals with 16 so far this season.

"It's an advantage to have a player like Jack Wiles on your team," St. Albans Coach Cameron Ashley said. "He's goal hungry and loves to score but isn't afraid to pass the ball off. He has a lot of speed, ball control and is very smart when he plays. He's an aggressive, good player."

The Red Dragons lean heavily on senior leadership. Wiles is joined by fellow 12th graders David Atwood, Nate Beck, Derrick Bumgardner, Ben Gregg and Sam Heywood on the St. Albans roster. Add junior goalkeepers Brian Knight and St. Albans has a core group of players to help build a winning mentality with the younger members of the roster.

"They help the younger guys," Ashley said.

"A lot of chemistry from last year is being built upon and that's a big factor for us. We also had a lot of midfielders return which really helps."

The Red Dragons will be tested in the back half of the season with games remaining against GW, South Charleston, Hurricane, Winfield, Huntington and Cabell Midland before the end of the regular season in early October.

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GEORGE WASHINGTON entered its game against Hurricane on Tuesday with a 7-0-0 record. Making that start even more impressive is the fact that GW has not allowed a goal this season. Defenders Connor Boyd, Mark Dundervill, Bailey Johnson and Khegan McClane have been a wall in the back for Coach Tom Hopper.

"It takes a lot of pressure off," he said. "We know that at any point in time somebody can soccer, but they certainly make life a lot easier for us."

In addition to having not allowed an opponent since a 1-0 semifinal loss to Parkersburg at last season's state tournament, 10 different players have scored for GW so far in 2013.

"I think this team is probably more deep than any team that we've had in a long time,' GW Coach Tom Hopper said. "We've got a number of quality players. That makes it easy for anybody to coach. It's just a question of keeping the kids focused in the right way and can you get some breaks."

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THE WVHSSCA rankings use a mathematical formula, rather than a poll. So far in 2013, it appears the math is being kind to boys and girls teams from the Kanawha Valley.

In Class AAA, the George Washington boys come in at No. 2 followed by defending state champion Hurricane at No. 9, South Charleston at No. 11 and Winfield at No. 15. Previously mentioned St. Albans is at No. 17 and Capital is tied at No. 20 with Parkersburg South.

On the girls' side, Winfield holds down the No. 1 ranking followed by Putnam County rival Hurricane at No. 2. GW is No.4 and Riverside is No. 14.

Charleston Catholic is in the top spot in both the boys and girls rankings for Class AA-A. No. 5 Sissonville joins the Irish on the boys' side with the Indians' girls team at No. 11. Herbert Hoover came in at No. 11.

*  *  *

SIX TEAMS from West Virginia - three boys and three girls - appear in newest National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings released Tuesday afternoon.

On the boys side, Wheeling Park is ranked No. 24 nationally and No. 3 in Region 4. Joining the Park in Region 4 this week are No. 6 GW and No. 10 Charleston Catholic. Winfield's girls are ranked No. 22 in the country this week and No. 4 in Region 4. Charleston Catholic (No. 6) and Hurricane (No. 12) also appear in the regional rankings.

Contact Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymail.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports. Coaches please submit weekly soccer results and statistics to tom.bragg@dailymail.com or dmsports@dailymail.com by noon each Monday.


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