The Centennial boys soccer team entered the 2017 season looking for someone to help replace the offensive production of the recently graduated Ammar Narmouq, who scored a league-best 19 goals last year. Enter Alex Keppler.
The senior midfielder started the season on a tear and hasn’t slowed down, as he entered October with 15 goals in the first eight games and helped the Eagles to a 5-2-1 start.
Keppler recently sat down with sports reporter Tim Schwartz and sports editor Brent Kennedy to talk about his team’s good start, his scoring pace and more.
Q: You are off to an unbelievable start with 15 goals in the first eight games and you’ve kind of taken over that role of go-to scorer. You guys had Ammar last year and the year before that it was Matt Merkey and now you’ve taken it on. Walk me through what it’s been like to step up the way you have.
A: It’s my senior year so obviously I have to step up because it’s my last year at Centennial. I just want to win the county and states for our team.
I mentioned that the two guys before you scored 19 goals and led the county. How much of it is you personally improving and how much of it is the system of Centennial soccer and you just being ready to step into that role?
The system, I don’t know. We just always have good guys coming into our school to play. It’s playing our best and you have to step up to that plate, I guess, and play your best.
You scored five goals all of last season and you were more of a supportive piece. You scored five goals alone against Hammond. Talk to me about that game and what that experience was like because it wasn’t a blowout game. That game was 5-5 at one point.
I think we scored one quick and then they scored to tie it at 1-1. It was 3-1 and we were winning at one point and I thought we were just going to end the game there and play calm. But they just scored two more and it was 3-3 and we had to put it on them and try to win. It was 4-4 at one point and then we had a surge in the second half at the end I scored two and it was 7-5 and we won.
When you get into a game like that when you get up 3-1, a lot of times that would be the time to sit back and play a little defense but you have to keep pushing forward. Do you like that as a forward? Do you like staying offensive minded throughout the whole game?
Yes and no at the same time because obviously I just want to come out with the win. But at the same time it’s fun competing and winning at the end and scoring a lot.
The meat of your schedule is coming up. Walk me though what you guys have taken from these first eight games.
We can’t do anything about our record now; we just have to live with it. We just have to play our best soccer now because the rest of our schedule is hard. In the playoffs you have to have a good mentality and good chemistry going in.
What makes the Mt. Hebron rivalry so special for you and why do you think those games have been as good as they have?
The schools have a love-hate relationship obviously but they’re always so competitive and always the best two teams in the county just battling it out. It’s always really fun.
Do you circle that game? Do you know when that Hebron game is knowing you need to make sure you’re at your best that day?
Definitely because even if it’s not the first game of the season we’ll be talking about every day at practice, like Hebron is coming up. It’s really fun to play.
What’s it going to take for you guys to get to that next level? You guys have had really good teams that have done really well but haven’t gotten that regional championship. What’s it going to take for this to be the year you breakthrough?
Like I said, we have to go into the playoffs playing really good. We can’t just mess up or anything. We have to play good as a team overall, stay compact in the back and offense, we have to connect everything together and then score early and come out with the win and focus on the next game.