The Cougars gained immediate credibility with the hire and successes on the field began to follow. Spanish Springs qualified for the postseason in Moreland’s first year at the helm, after earning just one playoff bid through its first seven seasons.
Then in a rebuilding year last fall, the Cougars struggled to an 0-6 record through the first go-round of High Desert League play, but made continuous strides as the season wore on and went 3-3 in the second go-round of conference clashes.
Now, in 2010 Moreland and his Cougars have a Northern 4A title to boast. It’s the first North crown for a Spanish Springs boys team sport since the Cougars’ baseball program accomplished the feat in 2005.
So how did Moreland do it?
“I’m trying to involve everybody, Hispanics, white kids,” Moreland said. “I want to make it so it’s not a big chore to be on the team. It should be a fun and exciting thing. The kids should be learning something too. I want them to know I’m a coach that can teach them something. Hopefully they’re saying ‘this is a guy who knows something. Maybe we should listen.’ The trust issues have come and gone. That’s a good thing and we’re getting the good players to come out.”
Plenty of good players are out for this fall’s Cougars club. Spanish Springs won its Northern 4A crown last week, by dropping Damonte Ranch 2-0 in a quarterfinal, upsetting Galena 2-1 in a semifinal and then beating North Valleys in a shootout Saturday in the regional final.
The trio of wins have given Spanish Springs (12-4-3) its first state tournament berth. The Cougars leave today for the 4A State Tournament which begins Friday in Las Vegas. The SSHS crew opens state play in a tourney semifinal against Sunset Region champion Legacy at 4 p.m. at Bettye Wilson Fields on the campus of Cimarron Memorial High School.
“It’s exciting,” Moreland said. “It’s an overnight trip. It’s different. But a lot of these guys have already traveled, they’ve just done it with clubs. So that’s nice. Hopefully, we’re not nervous before this one.
“Our guys are just chomping at the bit to play again. They like going to practice even though it’s freezing outside. Everyone is having fun and we’re at this next level.”
The Cougars have played their best soccer over the last two weeks of the season. That has Moreland pleased, but he openly admits his team can play better.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best game,” he said. “Offensively, we have to look for the second runner. There are things we can progress on. We have to push ourselves beyond what we’re doing now. I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet and we still get to play, which a lot of teams can’t say.”
Spanish Springs will bus down to southern Nevada today. The Cougars will get in practices on the state tournament surface tonight and Friday morning before suiting up in game action Friday afternoon.