Back in Full Force
Head coach Austin Clifton is experiencing a rare occurrence in high school athletics. He returns a roster that features every starter from last season. That experience could pay off for the Grizzlies this season.
“We return 100 percent of our varsity roster from the 2021 season. Going 6-11 in 2021 we look to improve on that in 2022. This will be the most talented and experienced boys roster we have had in my three years as head coach,” said Clifton. “We also add a talented freshman that the coaching staff is very excited about. Our schedule is always one of if not the toughest in the South Central area and we take pride in that. Our goal is to improve our overall record, advance deep in the postseason and to become a true team/family after all our players having played together for two-plus years.”
There are several players you should keep an eye on this season. Evan Locke is a sophomore goalkeeper who started every game last year as a freshman.
“He was nominated 1st Team All-City which is an unbelievable accomplishment as a freshman GK. Without him we would’ve never had the success we had last season and he is only going to continue to get better and improve over the next three. Having a solid GK is huge in the high school game and he’s one of the best I’ve seen. We are blessed to have him with us,” said coach Clifton.
Tyler Smalley returns for his senior season at center back. Smalley garnered some post season accolades as well.
“Tyler went from no postseason recognition to being 2nd Team All-City in 2021 and will have a great chance of being 1st team in 2022. He was also voted Honorable Mention 6A All-State in 2021. Tyler is very gifted on the ball and has worked extremely hard to improve his physical attributes as well. He is one of the best defenders in our area and can shut down any team’s best attacker,” said coach Clifton.
Incoming freshman Jesus Ortiz could be the X-factor for the Grizzlies this season. Coach Clifton said Ortiz is technically gifted and a great finisher in front of the goal. Ortiz plays at the club level and brings that experience to the field for Northwest.
Also look for junior midfielder Calvin Bell. Bell is a two-time Honorable Mention selectee for All-City and most of the offense runs through Bell.
As the team comes together, the season is there for the taking. Coach Clifton and his staff are excited for the possibilities.