Two-way talent at Highlands
Highlands senior Michael Shoemaker already has had some long days this school year.
After class, the first-year kicker rushes to the stadium for a two-hour football practice. Then, he heads over to the soccer field for another two-hour workout.
It's that kind of versatility and drive that has made Shoemaker such an important member of the Golden Rams' soccer program.
Shoemaker started at sweeper as a freshman and sophomore before moving to the center midfielder position last year.
Highlands coach Jim Turner is expecting big-time production from Shoemaker, as the Golden Rams try to return to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2004.
"Center midfielder is the coveted position in soccer," Turner said. "You're in the middle of the field, you're saying, 'Look to me, my foot.'"
Last season, Shoemaker and the Golden Rams finished with a solid overall record of 11-8, including 8-6 in Section 2-AA. They took fourth place one spot short of a playoff berth.
Late in the season, Shoemaker had a couple of important goals and assists, as the Golden Rams stayed in contention until the final matches.
Turner likes Shoemaker's physical skills and confidence, which he honed while playing club soccer during the spring and summer.
No matter if he's at midfielder or sweeper, Shoemaker can push through two or three defenders, as he works the ball up the field and looks to create scoring chances, Turner said.
"Making the adjustment to midfielder was relatively easy," Shoemaker said. "When I was sweeper, I was making a lot of runs and dishing off. At center midfielder, you need more endurance, and I worked hard at that. I should do a decent job setting up my teammates."
Shoemaker was inspired to join the football team this season by Highlands graduate Nick Bouchat, who played soccer and football in high school and now is kicking for Edinboro University.
Shoemaker shares the kicking duties with David Buterbaugh, who also is a member of the soccer team. Both of them helped Bouchat prepare for the 2007 high school football season.
"Nick introduced me to kicking," Shoemaker said. "I helped him with practice during the summer. I didn't even have to go to any camps. Him and his dad knew everything. Nick still sends text messages all the time before games from Edinboro."Additional Information:
Game to watch
Freeport at Springdale
7 p.m. Wednesday, Springdale High School
An early season Section 3 showdown between two of the more talented teams in WPIAL Class AA. It also matches two of the best goal-scorers in the A-K Valley in Springdale's Brittany Loveland and Freeport's Kayla Eckman. Eckman has over 100 career goals.Additional Information:
A CLOSER LOOK at Michael Shoemaker
School : Highlands
Class : Senior
Position : Midfielder
Shoemaker plays for the Northern Steel Soccer Club in the spring and summer. His teammates have included some of the best players in the Alle-Kiski Valley, including Fox Chapel's Andy Coulson and Knoch's Adam Sharbaugh. In 2006, Shoemaker was a member of the Northern Steel team that captured the PA West state Cup title and advanced to the US Club Soccer national championships.Additional Information:
Player profile of Courtney Kordes
You are the only girl on the boys' team, and you play the No. 1 spot. What is that like?
I am pretty used to it. The guys don't treat me any different. I just blend in.
What are your thoughts on some of the other top female players in the WPIAL, like Rachel Rohanna of Waynesburg, Nadia Luttner of Fox Chapel and Ann Colligan of Kittanning?
They are talented players. They worked very hard to get to where they are.
You are a third-degree black belt in karate. Are you still active in martial arts?
I played AAU basketball at the beginning of the summer, then went to golf full time, so I had to give (karate) up. But I plan to go back to it.
By the numbers
61 -- Consecutive section meet wins for the Riverview girls cross country team over the past five seasons, coming into this season.
4 -- Wins, in four games, for the Freeport boys soccer team, which could be a contender for a playoff berth from Section 2-AA this season. The Yellowjackets visit Highlands at 7 p.m. today.
Keep an eye on
• GOLF -- Kaine Mowatt, Sr., Freeport : Rising player had two holes-in-one as a freshman. Could be a player to watch during individual season.
• VOLLEYBALL -- Sara Montgomery, Sr., Knoch : One of the tallest players in the WPIAL, the 6-foot Montgomery is a key middle-hitter for the perennially strong Lady Knights.