Steve Feather refuses to get caught up in the hype.
Tuesday was a big day for the Maryville High School boys’ soccer team, the Rebels learning ESPN/Rise had ranked them as the No. 16 squad in the nation. The selection followed equally uplifting news the day before, Maryville learning Monday the same poll had it ranked as the No. 1 team in Tennessee.
Troublesome for Feather, who’s directed the Rebels to a program-best 9-0 start in only his second season as coach, is who’s ranked behind Maryville in both polls, namely state powers and District 4AAA rivals Bearden and Farragut.
“I think we have to stay hungry,” Feather said, “and, to be quite honest, I don’t think it’s right for us to be ranked ahead of Bearden and Farragut.”
Class AAA defending state champion Hendersonville follows Maryville in the 19th spot in the national poll, with Bearden 30th, Hardin Valley 33rd, Brentwood 34th and McCallie, 49th. Irmo (Columbia, S.C.) holds down the No. 1 spot.
Farragut’s Admirals did not crack the top 50.
The Bulldogs and Admirals have both won multiple state championships in recent years. Both can lay claim to having won national crowns as well.
The Rebels have had some success against Bearden in recent years. Farragut, a team Maryville has never beaten, is another story, and, until that changes, Feather said, any poll that ranks the Rebels ahead of the Admirals must be viewed with caution.
“The last two games, we kind of went through the motions,” Feather said. “The worst thing we can do right now is to think we have it made. I think when we finally do starting playing our best soccer, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
All-State midfielder David Lethco and junior Caleb Lucas pace a Maryville attack with no shortage of options on offense. The Rebels have outscored their opponents 35-4 in nine matches.
“What I’m most proud of is we haven’t let in many goals,” Feather said.
Goalkeeper Henry Hartsoe and defenders Marc Fernandez, Jamey Carmichael, Jackson Fleer and Cole Hood have proven largely impenetrable at the back. In midfield, seniors Josh Manor and Kyle Snyder spark a playmaking group that can launch strikes on opposing goals from all angles.
The national and state rankings are something to be proud of, Feather said, but they don’t hand out trophies for rankings.
“That’s good for our program,” he said, “but I think our guys know that the ranking that’s most important is the one in May (at the state tournament).”
The Rebels visit the Admirals next Tuesday, April 12, with the showdown with the Bulldogs scheduled for April 18 in Knoxville.