Archbold goalie Emerson Radabaugh practices at the school. The boys team, in just its third season as a varsity sport, is off to a 6-0 start.
Archbold's history in boys soccer is brief.
Two full seasons sum up the Blue Streaks' existence. But they haven't wasted time in developing into a quality Division III program.
Archbold is 6-0 and ranked No. 1 among D-III teams in the Northwest Ohio weekly coaches poll. It also received some votes the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association's state poll.
Boys soccer was recognized as a club sport at the school before 2010.
"I've always had some decent players because we have had a really good youth program," Archbold coach Sean Stewart said. "Right now, it's about learning how to play at a high level."
Stewart has been in charge of the program from the start and has worked with most of the players when many of them were teammates on club teams during elementary and junior high.
The previous two teams showed steady improvement over the course of each season. Archbold's first year as a OHSAA-sanctioned program resulted in an 8-7-1 record, including a district semifinal loss to Kalida. Last year, they were 13-3, again finishing with a district semifinal loss to Kalida.
Surprisingly, their fast start this season has occurred even 10 seniors graduated from last year's team.
They've produced three shutouts and have allowed only one opponent to score more than one goal -- a 3-2 win over Fort Jennings.
Streaks soccer player David Bontrager during practice in Archbold.
"I think we're clicking pretty good," Stewart said. "We came into the season in midseason form and we're doing pretty good."
The Blue Streaks have come out strong with a number of individuals making their impact felt as new key contributors.
Brodie Nofziger, a junior, has led the way for the Blue Streaks by coming through as an unexpected offensive spark plug after moving over to from the left midfielder position to the right attacking midfielder spot. He's produced a team-high 17 goals to go along with three assists. Nofziger registered only six goals last season.
"Definitely, I've got to give all of the credit to my teammates," Nofziger said. "They're the ones who are feeding me the ball, and I'm getting all the credit for putting them in, but they're doing all of the work. When I can, I finish it as well as I can."
Stewart credits Nofziger for putting in the work during the summer to improve his game and prepare for a new spot.
"We knew we'd get some goals from him, but I didn't know if we'd get this many goals out of him," Stewart said. "He's been great and his headers are unbelievable. But we've got other people who can score too."
Archbold has outscored opponents 27-4.
Shae Hernandez has delivered three goals and four assists, while David Bontrager has produced two goals and a team-leading five assists.
Alex Hurst has also scored three goals, Matt Sevey one goal and two assists, and Jacob Ott has provided two assists.
Archbold soccer player Brodie Nofziger connects on a header during practice.
Bontrager, a senior who was the team's leading scorer last season with 14 goals, has willingly moved to the center-forward position in order to help the overall offense. He believes his sacrifice of scoring goals benefits the team.
"We've been playing together for a long time, and we know where everybody is on the field," Bontrager said. "We pass really well, and have really good team chemistry."
Their defensive play has been just as impressive.
Goalkeeper Emerson Radabaugh has been steady as a first-year starter. The 6-foot-3 junior has been a reassuring force.
"Overall, our defense has really kept the shots down, but when he's had to come through, he has come through," Stewart said. "He's been a great shot stopper. He's tall and his instincts are really good and he's got great reach."
Radabaugh said it took some time to settle in.
"After the first couple of games I started to get the feel of it," Radabaugh said. "Now I'm pretty confident and feeling good about it. "Our defense has been amazing. Our back four have been really good.
"For most of the games I've hardly gotten any shots on goal against me. They've been keeping my job really easy."
The Blue Streaks have hopes for a long tournament run.
"Hopefully we're going to be contenders in the state tournament, but we're taking it one game at a time," Nofziger said.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.
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