With only two games remaining after spring break, the Sealy boys’ soccer team was just inside the playoff picture and was continuing to pick up steam as the season went along thought Tigers’ head coach Juan Perez.
“I was watching the team and we were getting better,” Perez said in a May 7 phone interview. “I was talking with (assistant coach Chris) Guadarrama and he said we’re going to be really good by the end of the season and I agree. We started to play like last year and I was expecting to go a few rounds in the playoffs because we had a good team but everything ended out of nowhere.”
Spring break never ended and the University Interscholastic League eventually canceled remaining activities in mid-April but the District 23-4A coaches still got together to award all-district honors for the season that was.
Sealy closed with a 14-11-1 overall record and owned a 5-5 mark in district play, sitting fourth behind Royal (8-3 in district), Fulshear (8-2) and Stafford (9-1). The Tigers had three representatives each on the all-district first and second teams as well as the honorable mention list.
Two of Sealy’s three first-team selections were seniors and closed their career with the honor albeit an unfinished season. George Regalado and Jose Luis Arriaga were difference-makers for Perez’s squads the last few years and the coach said Regalado’s improvements year after year earned him the first-team honor this year.
“(Regalado played a lot and) he kept getting better little by little, what they said was ‘We remember that guy from a few years ago and he was pretty good, we were expecting more from him,’” Perez said of the other district coaches’ thoughts on Regalado. “But it’s tough when you have an injury, everything stopped and he was out for about a year but it didn’t even make a difference because he was still the best player for me this year.”
Arriaga used to play defense for Perez, the coach said, but he eventually moved to midfield and wound up securing the Tigers’ first Area Championship in program history with a header to break a scoreless tie with only two minutes to play.
The other all-district first-team member will be returning next year alongside three of his junior classmates who were represented on the second team. Erick Balderas was a second-team selection as a sophomore after a 14-goal campaign and made the step up to the first team as a junior. He will look to continue to provide offense alongside his second-team classmates next year with hopefully a full slate of games.
Representing Sealy on the second team were strikers Ricky Avila and Samuel Ramos as well as defensive sweeper Angel Guerrero who, along with some other fresh faces, Perez hopes will shift the program’s focus.
“I see something, I see a change already,” Perez said of what he expects of next year’s team. “We’ll have Samuel (Ramos), Erick (Balderas), Ricky (Avila), some other guys from the first generation – not even the first generation – the present generation. But we have to change the way they think to help them understand school is important, not the game. I see that coming next year because I have a lot of freshmen and they’re pretty good.”
Three of those freshmen made the all-district honorable mention list in Amador Lopez, William Forrester and Rodolfo Olivares, all of whom Perez saw as talented enough to move around to have them play different positions despite some apprehension from the players.