2017-03-17 / Sports

Bearcats come together despite adversity

Brookland-Cayce goalkeeper Noah Scott makes a save against Airport. Brookland-Cayce goalkeeper Noah Scott makes a save against Airport. For Brookland-Cayce boys’ soccer the focus should be on capturing the program’s sixth consecutive region title, improving on last year’s 17-7-2 mark, and trying to make a deep run in the 3A playoffs.

However, off-the-field issues have crept into the storyline of the 2017 Brookland-Cayce Bearcats boys’ soccer season.

Longtime coach Kevin Heise was placed on administrative leave February 10, thrusting former player and current assistant coach Robby Setzler into the head role as interim head coach.

Despite Heise’s absence, the Bearcats have posted a 7-3 record, including wins over Dreher, Gilbert, Hanahan, and Waccamaw.

“Once we found out the news, and it was conveyed to the team, we took it the way we should have,” Setzler said. “I did everything as if Kevin Heise was there, from training sessions to pre- and postgame. That’s how I’ve transitioned with the guys, and they’ve bought in. They’ve been really mature.”

Brookland-Cayce’s Luis Lopez dribbles through the midfield against Airport.Brookland-Cayce’s Luis Lopez dribbles through the midfield against Airport.
Setzler credits the other Bearcat assistants, Kyle Heise, Ashley Hartin, Todd Wilkinson, and Heyward Hinton with helping to make the transition easier.

For Setzler, despite the circumstances, he sees a team that still has something to prove.

“These seniors still have something to prove, still have goals they are looking toward,” Setzler said. “They don’t get another shot at that, regardless of who their coach is.”

The senior leadership starts with goalkeeper Noah Scott and defender Donovan Branch. Along with the two senior leaders, Setzler also depends on Braxton Lewter and Noah Davis to perform well.

Brookland-Cayce head coach Kevin Heise Brookland-Cayce head coach Kevin Heise After giving up four goals to Fort Dorchester and three to Dutch Fork in the second annual Capital City Classic, the Bearcat defense has only surrendered one goal total, a 1-nil loss to Bishop England Saturday, March 11.

While the defense continues its stout play, the offense is still trying to find its place. So far this season, Brookland-Cayce has scored a total of 21 goals, including a 12-nil shutout of Lower Richland.

Horace Harling and Luis Lopez are two players Setzler has high expectations for on offense.

Setzler said he is comfortable having to rely on set pieces and free kicks to provide the scoring for his team. It’s a formula Brookland-Cayce soccer has been successful with in the past.

While Brookland- Cayce has faced a tough schedule early on, it doesn’t lighten up very much the rest of the way.

Brookland-Cayce boys’ soccer players show their support for head coach Kevin Heise at the February Lexington District Two School Board meeting. Brookland-Cayce boys’ soccer players show their support for head coach Kevin Heise at the February Lexington District Two School Board meeting. A visit from defending SCISA 3A state runner up Heathwood Hall is on the horizon, as are games against Spring Valley, A.C. Flora, and Belton-Honea Path in the Nike Palmetto Cup.

Through it all, Setzler has been able to keep his team focused on soccer despite the obvious distractions.

“I credit our guys with the way it’s gone,” Setzler said. “We’re focused on us and that’s Brookland-Cayce soccer and no one else. We’re going to get better everyday and, hopefully, be in the mix of things going into May.”

Unfortunately for Setzler and the Bearcat boys’ soccer program, no resolution is in sight regarding Heise’s administrative leave.

Setzler expects his team to compete for the region title, be in the mix during next month’s Nike Palmetto Cup, and play their best soccer at the end of the season.

Regardless of the eventual outcome on and off the soccer field for Setzler, the opportunity to coach the team he once played for has been a positive experience.

“It has been a good experience for me being able to coach these guys, despite the circumstances that present themselves,” Setzler said. “ With that said; we want Kevin Heise back, he’s what is Bearcat soccer. He’s built it; he deserves to be there, and I hope to have him back soon.”

Lexington School District Two officials would not speak on Heise’s administrative leave since it was a district matter. Attempts to reach Brookland Cayce High School principal Gregg Morton for comment were unsuccessful.

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