CLAWSON — Determining a preseason favorite is often done by taking a look back.
Based on past success, the general consensus within the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division centered on the Clawson High soccer team as the one to beat in 2012.
Coach Jared Kullman understood this, though he may not have entirely agreed with it.
“Coming into this year, we had graduated 60 goals (from last year’s team) and really didn’t know what we’d have,” he explained.
Sure, the 2011 Trojans were dominant in division play, rolling to an 11-0-1 Gold record and finishing nine points ahead of the next-best team.
But this year’s squad was different, younger and much less experienced.
The results, though, those remain the same.
“This is a huge deal,” Kullman said following a 2-1 victory against St. Clair High Oct. 11. The win gave the Trojans the Gold title for the second straight year and clinched their third division title overall in the past four seasons.
“To do this two years in a row is awesome,” he added. “We could have dropped off after last year, but these guys wouldn’t allow it. They came in focused, stepped up when we needed and it, and once we found a groove, we were tough to beat.”
Almost impossible, actually.
Clawson, which opened the postseason Oct. 15 in a game played after press time, ended the regular season 16-1-2 overall and 11-0-1 in Gold play.
“Winning the division means a lot,” junior Tyler Jugon said. “It felt like we weren’t just playing for fun, but to make a name for ourselves.”
Clawson has certainly done that over the past few seasons.
After limping to a 6-8-2 record in 2008, Clawson rolled to a 15-1-2 mark in 2009, including a 10-0-0 mark in the MAC Silver, good for a division title.
In 2010, the Trojans moved to the Gold, went 10-1-1 and finished second by three points, setting up consecutive titles now.
“My mission coming here was to turn things around and make this a solid soccer program,” Kullman said. “It wasn’t too long ago when this program didn’t have a junior varsity team and was dealing with losing seasons all too often. But things lined up nicely. We had some strong kids come here that wanted to be part of something special. The word of success got out, and we’ve come a long way.”
“All the hard work we’ve been putting in paid off,” senior goalie Alex Maison said simply. “We have something to show for it.”
Speaking after the St. Clair win, Kullman said bigger goals remained, hinting strongly at a long run in the playoffs. But the success in Gold play wasn’t going to be looked over, not now, not ever.
“We have some awesome seniors, some great captains, and some of the best players around that made this possible,” he said. “This team learned how to win as the season went on, and capping it with this is a awesome.”