Randy Young started the season unsure not only about what his Tyner soccer team would look like but where the Rams would call their home.
He found positive answers to both.
The Rams are in the thick of the District 6-A/AA race for the first time in their history. They have a match against East Ridge on Monday that could have a role in determining the top seed headed into the district tournament. They've been led by junior forward Jorge Nieves, who has a team-leading 13 goals, and Johnni Orozco, who has 10 goals and three assists and is "the best player I've coached and seen," according to Young.
"It's been a night-and-day kind of season," Young said. "We've been trying to find the right combination all year. We had some problems on defense, but lately we've been able to tighten things up some."
The Rams (6-3, 4-1) began the season looking for a place to play their home matches, as the Tyner Middle School field had too much damage after a vandalism incident in late January. They found one at Finley Stadium, where the program has received gracious contributions from Paul Smith, the executive director of the stadium.
"Finley gave us a great rate and really took us under their wing," Young said. "Paul Smith has been awesome and has been willing to do whatever they can to make the transition as smooth as possible."
Signal on a roll
The Signal Mountain boys' soccer preseason consisted of a lot of snow on the ground and ice in the Eagles' faces. The season has commenced with a lot of wins and no losses.
The Eagles are off to the best start in school history, with a 10-0-1 mark. They've been paced by a solid defense that, led by goalkeeper Adam Pickett and Drew Godbehere, has allowed only six goals all year. The offense has been led by forwards Josh Patta and Connor Apthorp and midfielder Robert Schorr.
"I presented things to the guys before the year started, and they've done well," Signal coach Richard Northcutt said. "We've put in a lot of hard work, and we're doing OK as a group."
The Eagles' tie was against 2013 Georgia Class AAAA runner-up Southeast Whitfield, and they have wins over Baylor, East Hamilton and Chattanooga Christian -- the latter a district win. Signal is 3-0 in district play and can wrap up the 7-A/AA regular-season title with either a win or a tie against Notre Dame next Thursday.
"When you look at the schedule, there are some matches that you're going to be a little more fired up for than others," Northcutt said. "We won an ugly, scrappy contest against Baylor and that was a pretty strong hurdle; then later that week we survived against Southeast Whitfield. Jumping over those hurdles gave us some momentum, and now we feel pretty good about ourselves."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.