Here is a look at the 2012 season for boys soccer in the Mid-Columbia
Conference champion: Richland
District champion: Richland
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Reached state in 2011: Chiawana (lost in quarterfinals)
GK--Nash Yamauchi, sr., Richland. D--Jhony Mendoza, sr., Davis; Nicolas Reyes, jr., Richland. MF--Ariel Gonzalez, sr., Chiawana; Guillermo Silva, sr., Eisenhower; Derrick Gonzales, sr., Moses Lake. F--Rene Solorio, sr., Chiawana.
D--Humberto Chavez, jr., Chiawana; Carlos Sanchez, sr., Wenatchee. MF--Homar Renteria, sr., Davis; Gerard Lomas, sr., Richland; Jon Larsen, jr., Richland. F--Ricardo Badillo, sr., Davis; Jesus Delgado, sr., Eisenhower; A.J. Montes, jr., Moses Lake.
Conference preview: Chiawana finished 6-6 in the CBBN 4A to finish fourth in 2012, but the Riverhawks outlasted their conference counterparts and made their first trip to state. The Hawks return seven starters -- including top club player Solorio -- and are the favorites to supplant Richland as league champs.
The Bombers won't make it easy. Coming off its first league and district titles since 2003, Richland has the league's top goalkeeper returning in Yamauchi, as well as three other all-CBBN picks.
Davis also could challenge with seven starters returning. Walla Walla, which revitalized its program under coach Mike Washington, always is a threat.
Eisenhower, with three-time first-team midfielder Silva, will battle Moses Lake and Wenatchee for the fifth and sixth district playoff spots.
Conference champion: Southridge
Regional champion: Southridge
Reached state in 2011: Southridge (made Final Four, fourth place); Eastmont (lost in quarterfinals); Pasco (lost in first round).
GK--Jose Ramos, sr., Pasco. D--Juan Rodriguez, sr., Eastmont; Isaac Sappington, sr., Pasco; Jordan Angeles, sr., Pasco. MF--Ivan Marmalejo, jr., Eastmont; Derek Zimmerman, sr., Pasco; Jovan Rojas, sr., Pasco. F--Geo Vasquez, sr., Kennewick; Jake Zoulek, sr., Southridge.
D--Keaton Hale, sr., Southridge. MF--Joel Villa, jr., Eastmont. F--Mauricio Perez, jr., Eastmont; Jesse Esquivel, sr., West Valley.
Conference preview: Pasco's season ended after falling to Eastmont for the third time last year. That should be motivation enough for the Bulldogs to make a strong push for the CBBN 3A championship that eluded them in 2011. They will be boosted by eight returning starters, including their entire back four plus goalkeeper Ramos.
Eastmont could make a big jump after tying for third last season. The Wildcats return all 11 starters on a team that graduated just one senior.
Southridge brings back the top player in the conference in Zoulek, a second-team 3A all-state forward. The power-packed senior was a force last year in leading the Suns to their first Final Four appearance. Southridge returns five starters and should have plenty of talent waiting in the wings to defend its conference title.
Kennewick didn't lose much, bringing back nine of its 11 starters. The Lions appeared to win a first-round district playoff game against Kamiakin before a missed call forced a replay and a reversal of fortunes, ending their season. With first-team striker Vasquez returning, plus all four starting defenders, Kennewick should grab a home playoff berth at districts.
West Valley scored the first big upset of the year, traveling to Southridge to beat the Suns in the league opener Saturday. Esquivel is one of the top returning playmakers in the CBBN.
Kamiakin returns five starters, including its top four attackers on offense, and should find an easier route to the playoffs this season. The Braves return their top two scorers in Mario Guizar and Cley Burns.
Sunnyside graduated most of its scoring punch and must rebuild fast to return to the district playoffs. Hanford is loaded with sophomores, but one of them is promising playmaker Will Bishop, a midfielder who made a strong impression last season.
Conference champion: East Valley, Othello
District champion: Othello
Reached state in 2011: Ellensburg (lost in quarterfinals), Othello (lost in first round), Selah (lost in first round).
D--Daniel Hernandez, sr., Selah; Edgar Cano, jr., Toppenish. MF--Jorge Campos, sr., Othello (MVP); Cristian Molina, sr., East Valley. F--Eliseo Montiel, jr., Selah; Victor Lopez, sr., Toppenish; Jonathan Molina, jr., East Valley; Freddy Rodriguez, sr., Wapato.
D--Osvaldo Martinez, sr., Wapato; Gavin Osegueda, jr., East Valley. MF--Brennan Ball, soph., Selah; Johnny Sanchez, soph., Ellensburg; Jose Ibarra, sr., Ellensburg. F--Casey Oltman, sr., Ellensburg; Martin Madrigal, jr., Prosser.
Conference preview: Othello and East Valley shared the CWAC title last season, and they'll have to battle it out for supremacy again in 2012. Of course, Ellensburg, with three returning all-CWAC picks, could overtake everyone for the conference title.
Campos, a first-team 2A all-state selection, returns to the Huskies after earning conference MVP. He will have to shoulder much of the defensive pressure, creating a spot for another potential young star to step up. Meanwhile, the Red Devils bring back the top scoring tandem in the league in Jonathan and Christian Molina, who combined for 22 goals last season.
Selah is another darkhorse, as Montiel returns after leading the CWAC with 21 goals in 2011. Prosser, which tied for fourth last year, is counting on playmaker Madrigal for an even bigger season offensively.
Cano returns to anchor Toppenish's back line, but the Wildcats also will have Lopez attacking up top. Wapato also has a top striker returning in Rodriguez.
Ephrata finished strong last year but needs a more consistent push to make the playoffs. Grandview lost its top player in Taylor Hoffard. A young, energetic Greyhounds team could be a good sign. Quincy returns its top defender, Julio Rodriguez.
Conference champion: Wahluke
District champion: Wahluke
Reached state in 2011: Wahluke (won state title), Royal (reached Final Four, third place), Highland (lost in first round).
GK--Cesar Tlatelpa, sr., Wahluke. Field players--Luis Rivera, sr., Wahluke; Christian Guerrero, jr., Royal.
GK--Gerardo Barajas, sr., Mabton; Lupe Arceo, jr., Royal. Field players--Freddy Sojo, soph., Granger; Eugenio Cruz, sr., Wahluke; Jesus Gutierrez, jr., Highland; Alex Ramirez, sr., Royal; Crisantos Chavez, jr., Mabton; Jorge Sanchez, sr., Highland.
Conference preview: Two of the state's best 1A teams again will battle for the SCAC title. Wahluke claimed its second back-to-back title in school history last season, a momentous achievement for the Mattawa school. Warriors coach Arthur de Victoria trains his players as well as any coach in the state, and he gets results. Wahluke returns first-team 1A all-state picks Rivera and Tlatelpa, which should ease the burden of losing three other all-SCAC players to graduation.
Royal, which made its deepest run ever into the state tournament, will be hungry for another trip despite losing leading scorer Adam Martinez. The Knights return second-team all-state defender Guerrero and all-SCAC goalkeeper Arceo.
Never count out Connell, which must replace four graduated all-SCAC players. But the Eagles seem to have an endless supply of aggressive scorers and capable defenders on the ready.
Highland returns top scorer Gutierrez, and Mabton's defense should flourish behind GK Barajas and Chavez. Granger has one of the league's top young playmakers in Sojo.
Kiona-Benton recorded just one conference win in 2011. The Bears will have to add to that total if they hope to reach districts. They will battle Naches Valley to stay out of the cellar.