Not all fledgling programs are the same.
That much was evident Thursday as Heritage cruised to a 6-0 victory over Greenback at Heritage High School.
Hector Reveles found the back of the net twice in the first 13 minutes and Jose Aguilar and Josue Hernandez followed with first-half goals of their own. Zach Suttles and Sam Garcia each scored in the second half.
“They want to win, but it’s about getting there,” Heritage coach Larry Fowler told The Daily Times.
“It takes one step at a time. You don’t take out an eight-foot ladder and go from one to eight right away.
“They’re learning to win … and that’s going to take winning one game at a time.”
The Mountaineers are attempting to get their program out of the doldrums.
Fowler is the fourth coach in five years, and one of the first questions his players asked upon accepting the position was if “he’d be around for more than a year.”
Heritage won two games combined over the past two years, but Thursday marked their third win of the season, showcasing slow, yet tangible improvement.
“The kids want to put a lot of pride in the program and they want somebody to care about what they are doing,” Fowler said. “The kids are working hard and one of the key things we stress to them is playing 80 minutes of soccer whether we’re ahead nine or behind nine.
“We want to get up to the level of Farragut and Maryville, and we not only want to get to their level, we want to beat them, but we have to work our way up there.”
Meanwhile, the Cherokees’ program is in its second year of existence and is still trying to grow out of its infancy stage.
“I’ve seen a lot better commitment,” Fox said. “They’re trying to get better and we’re getting better. The difference between the start of the season and now is clear to me as a coach, and it’s clear to these guys, too.”
The problem stunting Greenback’s growth is the number of players on its roster.
It lost five seniors from last season’s inaugural team and this year’s roster has been trimmed down to 13 players.
“We have a long way to go,” Fox said. “You can’t really do any real in-game coaching because you can’t sub people in and out and go over things and your practices are limited with that few people. If we can get the numbers up, that’s a big first step for our program.”
“It’s difficult for them to get their feet on the ground and going,” Fowler added. “I told (Fox) that I have great respect for him because I know what it’s like to rebuild. We’re rebuilding, but if we can encourage a team that is working on it like we are then we’re going to do it.”
The Mountaineers are much further along in constructing a successful program, and a new offseason plan is the next step in getting to that point.
“We’re already looking at next year because these kids are embracing the things that we want to do for the summer and the fall,” Fowler said. “They want this year to finish up really well, but they’re looking at next year as a chance to get the program where it has to go.
“We have some kids that can play the game. It’s just about getting them to play together.”