Horner sees potential in Raiders, but knows it’s a process to realize it

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published September 11, 2013

FARMINGTON HILLS — In his mind, success will be realized.

From his vantage point, the youth and inexperience his roster holds will give way to the potential he believes is there.

On both fronts, it’s just a matter of when. 

As he paced the practice field Sept. 4, North Farmington soccer coach Michael Horner guided his squad from one drill to the next, although it was hardly that smooth of a transition.

Repeating instructions and details was a constant occurrence, yet he did both with a smile.

“We’re very inexperienced, and we’re very young,” he reiterated about his 2013 team.

After going 10-7-3 a year ago and taking second in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division, the Raiders returned just five varsity players to the mix when tryouts took place this fall.

“We’ve spent a lot of time getting guys up to speed,” said senior Nathan Bur, one of the five back. “We’ve scrimmaged a lot, and the main thing is getting the guys adjusted to the varsity game. The speed from JV to varsity is a lot different.”

“They are still working hard just getting to know each other,” Horner said. “The five guys back are all starters and were all key players a year ago, so we have a good foundation. But the rest is a matter of getting everyone up to speed and on the same page.”

So far, things have gone pretty well.

The Raiders were 1-1 on the season at press time, easily beating Hazel Park High and falling to Walled Lake Western 2-1 in a game they led 1-0.

But early season results are hardly a concern for the team.

“It’s more about being in game situations and gaining that experience,” senior Zack Lumley said. “You can already see things getting better. You can already see the younger guys adjusting. That’s how you get closer and how you become more of a team.”

As for the potential Horner talked about?

“By the end of the year, I see us as a team that can compete in the division and then can make some noise in the district round,” he explained. “It’s not going to be easy, especially in our district, but the talent is here to compete with any team we face.”

“It’s different than it’s been in the past, when we’ve brought back 10 seniors or something,” Bur said. “But it hasn’t been as tough as, I think, we all expected. Playing games, practicing — it all helps and it’s getting us ready for the rest of the season. … We’ve talked about contending for the league and winning a district. All we can do is play our game and see what happens.”