The boys soccer season, as a whole, was fairly disappointing in 2018 for schools in Bartow County.
Only one team, Cartersville, made the playoffs, and only one other, Cass, was particularly close.
The Canes won the Region 5-AAAA championship but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Chestatee in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament. The Colonels suffered some heartbreak of their own dropping a must-win game against Kell to miss out.
Adairsville and Woodland also missed out on the playoffs.
However, despite the disappointment, there were still plenty of standout players to take the field for the Canes, Colonels, Wildcats and Tigers.
Player of the Year: Pedro Ghanem, Cartersville sophomore
Ghanem essentially locked up this award within the first month of the season. He began the season scoring goals, he ended the season scoring goals and he spent nearly every game in between scoring goals. However, to say Ghanem is just a goal-scorer is, frankly, an insult. His technical ability is unrivaled in Bartow County, while he also showed a willingness to track back and dished out six assists.
Forward of the Year: Anthony Robledo, Cass senior
If it wasn't for Ghanem's incredible season, Robledo would have certainly capped his Cass career with player of the year honors. Instead he'll settle for forward of the year after accounting for 34 goals on the season. His 21 goals and 13 assists will be difficult for the Colonels to replace as Robledo continues his career at Reinhardt. His leadership might be harder to replace, though.
Midfielder of the Year: Slomi Orozco, Cass junior
Orozco will return next year, and he will be asked to fill an even larger void. However, his worth has already been shown. Unfortunately, it really showed in Cass' loss to Kell that ended the Colonels' chances at consecutive playoff appearances. The stats say two goals and four assists, but Orozco often calmed things in the midfield and played the pass to spring the potent Cass attack.
Defender of the Year: Houston Read, Cartersville senior
First and foremost, Read helped lead a defense that had six shutouts on the season, won a Region 5-AAAA championship and made the second round of the state tournament. He also chipped in offensively with three goals. It added up to a first-team all-region selection for the graduated senior. While Ghanem is set to return, Read is one of several holes the Canes will need to replace in 2019.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Nic Jackson, Adairsville junior
Jackson made over 145 saves on the season, while earning all-Region 6-AAA first-team honors. An outstanding wrestler and linebacker, Jackson uses his physicality to dominate inside the box and his instincts to dominate outside. Regardless of the situation, Jackson always seemed focused and centered. At a cerebral position, the junior used his brain, eyes and mouth to guide his defense
Levi Brandenburg, Woodland senior — Arguably the most aggressive and hard-working defensive player in the county, Brandenburg made his presence felt every time he stepped on the field. He played with the same fire and passion whether the Wildcats were winning, losing or tied. As a defensive midfielder, he gave cover to the Woodland defense and excelled in the role.
Dani Carrillo, Adairsville senior — Carrillo did a great job of filling the playmaker role for the Tigers. Moving seamlessly between forward and midfield, Carrillo popped home nine goals and handed out three assists. His technical ability rivaled the best on-ball players in the area. Adairsville head coach Jayme Laney described Carrillo as a "disciplined, dedicated, respectful young man and player."
James Chege, Cartersville senior — Chege spent most of his time on the wings for the Canes, using his speed to spread the play and force the issue in attack. His pace always put defenders on the back foot. He, himself, had a nice left foot and curled home several fine goals with it. In total, Chege had eight goals and three assists in earning first-team all-region recognition.
Ethan Eckert, Cartersville sophomore — Despite being just a 10th-grader, Eckert showed experience beyond his years. Playing on such a good team, he often went long stretches without being needed. But when called upon, he almost always answered the bell. He allowed just 1.4 goals per game and had six shutouts, good enough to land Eckert second-team all-region honors.
Grant Farmer, Cartersville senior — Part of an incredibly talented midfield, full of technical ability and pace, Farmer brought a much-needed toughness. His senior leadership will be greatly missed by the Canes, as will his five goals, three assists and second-team all-region play. Arguably his most important contributions came from his ability to put corner kicks into dangerous areas.
Miguel Hernandez, Woodland sophomore — An attacking midfielder of the highest order, Hernandez had an innate ability to play dangerous balls into the box. His vision and on-the-ball skill made him the ideal distributor for the Wildcats. He also chipped in with seven goals, including a few spectacular efforts.
Julio Medina, Cass senior — A physical presence up top, Medina would be the primary goal-scoring threat for most teams. However, he became somewhat of a third wheel in the Cass offense. Make no mistake, though, Medina made a massive impact for the Colonels. He landed an honorable-mention spot on the all-region team after scoring nine goals and giving out eight assists.
Kevin Moreno, Woodland freshman — The lone freshman to land on the all-county team, Moreno already looks destined to become one of the top players in the county. His 13 goals in his debut season jump out, but he possesses an all-around game that few seniors — let alone ninth-graders — can match. As Wildcats coach Ed Guse put it, "He has good ball control, passes well and finishes well."
Carlos Perez, Cass junior — A second-team all-region selection, he helped spearhead a formidable Cass offensive attack alongside Robledo and Medina. With Robledo and Medina having graduated, the onus will be on Perez to carry the Colonels in 2019. If his junior season was any indication, he seems up for the task, as Perez scored 20 goals and assisted on six others.
Carter Spivey, Cartersville senior — Cartersville head coach D.J. Paradis called Spivey the "smartest defender on the field." Spivey used his physical tools and instincts to shut down the opposing teams. Like Read, he was able to do his part to keep six shutouts and will be another defensive rock Paradis attempts to replace next year.
Angel Banda, Adairsville sophomore; Ronny Ramirez, Woodland junior; Isai Romero, Cass freshman.