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Kofa pounds Chandler-Basha
Kofa sophomore forward Kenny Barajas has spent most of his time this year honing his skills on the junior varsity roster. Now he knows someone was watching.
Barajas scored two goals in Kofa's 5-1 soccer victory over Chandler-Basha Tuesday.
With five minutes left in the first half, Barajas lofted a pass from Kings' midfielder Jesus Felix over the Basha goalkeeper to pad the Kofa lead 3-1. He later scored in the 62nd minute off an assist from Alan Urias.
“I've just been pushing myself in practice every day,” Barajas said. “I got so excited after each goal and I wanted to keep going.”
Kofa coach Jamie Nicewander keeps an eye on his JV team and tries to be in tune to when a player is ready to come up and help the big team.
“You watch their performance on JV and it's not just whether or not they're scoring goals, because there's all different positions, but it's how they're playing. How are their runs off the ball, whether or not they're communicating like we expect the varsity players would. Whether or not they're thinking one-two touch. Whether or not they're making runs after they pass the ball.”
The one part of Barajas' game that has improved in Nicewander's eyes is his ability to put up accurate shots on goal.
“His percentage on finishing is nice,” Nicewander said. “Some forwards will take 10 shots and one on goal. Kenny was inconsistent at the beginning of the season, but he's getting more consistent now. All his shots are frame, almost every single shot. We're getting deflections off those shots now. Those are critical things.”
The only momentum Basha was able to muster came in the sixth minute when the Bears answered immediately to Kofa's first goal 30 seconds earlier. Despite the early sloppiness, Kofa settled down and dominated possession for the rest of the game.
“It happens typically in a lot of games,” Nicewander said. “You get up by one and they score right away. We weren't worried about it initially because we were moving the ball really well right away. The guys were clicking.”
As the game progressed, it got a increasingly chippy. After Felix scored in the 44th minute, Basha was given a red card, putting them a man down for the remainder of the match. From there on out, it was all Kofa.
Kofa entered the game ranked No. 6 in the state, dropping from No. 2 despite having not lost a game since losing to San Luis on Dec. 19. Kofa plays three more times this year, twice against Yuma High and once at Cibola, to improve its chances of hosting a state playoff game.
“We're in a good position right now,” Nicewander said. “We try not to compare ourselves to teams in the region. That's a mistake that a lot of other teams make, trying to be the big fish in the little pond. We want to be the shark in the ocean. We really try to tell our kids not to worry about if the other teams are qualifying for state playoffs, but worry about us.”