OGDEN — Over the past few years, the Ben Lomond boys soccer team has been one of the more successful sports teams at the school. The Scots have been regular playoff qualifiers.
When previous coach Keith Jenson stepped down, the school's new athletic director knew he needed to find somebody to coach who could keep the team on its current trajectory.
Somebody reliable. Somebody who knew a lot about soccer.
Somebody who could relate to a group of kids in a way others couldn't.
Eventually, that somebody became William Echeverria, who also coaches girls soccer at Highland Junior High in the fall. There's plenty more to Echeverria than being a soccer coach at a high school.
Soccer time is also family time.
Sixty-five kids showed up to try out for the Ben Lomond boys soccer team.
Sixty-five players made the team.
"I give every kid an opportunity, so we have two freshman teams actually. It's about 30 kids — freshmen — that I want to keep them busy in the afternoons and soccer is the best way to do it. I don't like to cut anybody just because. Even if they don't play, we want to teach them the practice," Echeverria said.
Only people who get cut from Echeverria's team are kids who don't have good enough grades. That's really the only stipulation.
His coaching style also shows someone who's not a constant screamer or tinkerer.
"One thing that I try to teach the players is that we have to build out of the back and bring the ball, I try to teach them to think outside the box while they're on the pitch, make good decisions," he said.
One could see the cogs turning in players' heads. They'd make different runs in behind the defense, try different through balls, patiently build passing sequences out of the back.
"He's been helping us out with our visual cues, where to be positioned, how we should move with the ball in certain places on the field," said Erik Arroyo, who added that Echeverria is a very organized coach.
From the sideline, Echeverria's coaching commands were mostly in English. And then they switched to Spanish.
"When the Spanish kicks in, that's how you know you've got to step it up," Arroyo said, laughing.
For a school like Ben Lomond, whose enrollment is made up mostly of Hispanic students, that demographic hasn't been represented as much in the school's coaching ranks, if at all.
So it's important that he can communicate with kids who may be more comfortable speaking Spanish.
"Absolutely. I can relate to them much better, because I grew up like these guys were. I went to high school, had the same problems back then that they do now," Echeverria said.
It's a way to help connect a coach to players, something that can be a struggle no matter where. And it's helping forge a tight-knit family.
"We just connect on a whole different, spiritual level. We both came from the same places, we both know the struggles of how sometimes we get discriminated as being Hispanics, or this or that," Arroyo said.
Echeverria originally hails from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (nicknamed Xela), a city about three times the size of Ogden located in the Guatemala Highlands. It's about a two-and-a-half hours northeast of the country's Pacific coastline.
Near Quetzaltenango is the Santa Maria volcano, which erupted in 1902 and registered as a level 6 eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index — the famous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (now named Anak Krakatau) was also VEI-6 and the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was a VEI-5.
Growing up, almost everybody in town played soccer. His grandfather, Armando Paniagua, was a professional soccer player.
"So it was expected of me to follow in his footsteps. But I have a very protective mom and she kind of wanted me out of that life, but you know, 40 years later here I am," Echeverria said, laughing.
But his grandfather was more than just a futbol focal point.
Echeverria lived in a single-parent household and his family was poor — poor to the point where getting food was a struggle in and of itself.
"I remember my grandfather, after he retired (from soccer), he worked in a men's prison, he was a secretary there. So at the end of the day, they would give him bread. I remember going to meet him every day the bus station and he would give us bread so we could have something to eat for dinner," Echeverria said.
A desire to escape poverty and find a better life led Echeverria's mother to move the family to Fullerton, California, when Echeverria was 17 years old.
His mother paid the bills by opening a daycare in their apartment. Echeverria and his five brothers would leave in the morning to go to school, and parents would almost simultaneously drop their kids off at his mother's daycare.
Nearly 20 years ago, he, his wife Glenda and their two sons (at the time) moved to Centerville. They now have seven children: the oldest is 22 and the youngest is 1 year old.
If you catch a Ben Lomond soccer game, odds are you'll see some of the family on the sideline.
"We're all one big family, let's just say that," Arroyo said.
Glenda helps coach along with their two older sons, Will and Moroni.
At Friday's game against Ogden, she stood on the sideline with their 1-year-old son sitting in a baby holder on her back and some of the couple's other children nearby.
William approached her right after halftime and they had a brief discussion where Glenda was moving her hands in a way soccer coaches normally do, as if to demonstrate tactical adjustments.
It was 1-0 at that time. The Scots won 2-1.
REGION SOCCER UPDATES
It looks like some order of Layton, Weber and Davis will be the top three at the end of the year. It's only based on recent results, but both the Lancers and Warriors are tied for first place in the region at 3-0 with Davis narrowly in second at 3-1.
Layton's solid all around, with a good defender in Takum Hepworth as well as a combination up front of forward Eli Nixon and midfielder Dallin Smith. In games decided by one goal, the Lancers are 5-0.
Weber has an experienced goalkeeper, Charlie Wheelwright, along with one of the better midfielders around, Austin Allen. Since a season-opening loss to Logan, the Warriors have won five in a row with four clean sheets.
Davis keeper Noah Larkin already has four clean sheets in the Darts' first seven matches. Only one of those matches has been decided by more than one goal, and that was a 4-0 win over Syracuse. Everything else has been either one goal or a draw.
The battle for fourth place might be interesting, too. Northridge's 0-3 region record is deceiving because those losses have come by one goal.
Fremont actually has a region win, a 6-1 laugher over Syracuse, to go with two close region losses (anyone sense a theme with this region yet?).
After a bright start in non-region play, Syracuse, now coached by Taylor Allen, has started 0-4 in Region 1. Striker Ethan Harris is committed to Air Force Academy.
Might the Clearfield Falcons be a playoff contender? They're 2-2 in the region and both region losses have been to Layton and Weber by a goal each. Chance Hamblin has scored four goals this year, all in region play.
There's a lot up for grabs in this region with how many players defending champion Box Elder graduated.
Viewmont, coming off a run to last year's state title game, appears like it's picked up where it left off. The Vikings have the strongest start of anyone in the region at 4-0-2 with a 14-1 goal margin in their favor. Josh Varley has five clean sheets in goal and the team's goalscoring is very balanced.
An up-and-down start to non-region play gave way to a big 4-0 win by Woods Cross over Roy in the region opener. The way the Wildcats started before that (two wins in eight games) compared to how Roy started (four wins in six) indicated this was a surprising result.
This may just end up being the theme of the region: a brawl, results that one wouldn't necessarily expect, and a whole lot of unknowns.
Roy returns Deontae Ben and Cody Moore from a team that won its first-round playoff game last season. The Royals have a few more returners in key areas and with a lot of the region teams losing several players, that might be enough for a high playoff seed.
Box Elder has a nearly-20 goal shoe to fill with Mitchell Pyle's graduation. So far it looks like a committee approach to goals, with seven goalscorers and only one player with more than one goal.
Farmington will obviously be young with a lack of seniors going to the new high school. The Phoenix should be well-prepared for region play after facing Layton and Layton Christian and coming away with a 1-0 loss both times.
Bountiful's trying to rebound from a one-win campaign and the Braves didn't get that first win until late last season. They already have one this year (1-0 over Mountain Crest) but they've been unable to find enough goalscoring so far to get more good results. Their defense has been solid.
Appearances can be deceiving, hence why Woods Cross wasn't heralded as much as maybe the Wildcats should be. They played a tough non-region schedule with some good results and bad results. All that did was prepare them for a 4-0 win in the region opener. Keep a close eye on WX.
The region started as anyone's game. So far, Stansbury's in first place with a 4-0-1 region record.
A young Ogden team came in with a 2-0-1 record before Friday's tilt with Ben Lomond, won by the latter. The Tigers have just three seniors but one of them is JJ Muniz, the team's best offensive player last year and a veritable attacking threat to any team. The other two seniors are Daniel Wilson (a captain last season) and Omar Flores.
Joe Cloward has been a one-player wrecking ball for defending region champion Bonneville, checking in with 15 goals in the first nine games. Other key returners include keeper Matthew Braden, Brandon Bejarano and Thomas Dearden.
Bonneville's new head coach, Jared Anderson, was the main assistant coach last year and filled in as interim head coach for the last part of the region season and the playoffs after the Weber School District fired then-head coach Fritz Backman (he was arrested months later on a felony warrant in Colorado).
Echeverria is Ben Lomond's new boys soccer coach and takes over a very talented and deep team. That team includes standouts such as Freddy Cano, Javier Villegas, Erik Arroyo and Ruben Soto. When the Scots are firing on all cylinders, they're tough to beat.
Juan Diego and Park City are surprisingly mortal this year, while Tooele's had trouble getting a full squad for games. There's a legitimate chance that more than one Weber County school could end up in the playoffs.
REGIONS 12, 13 & 16
Bear River started non-region play 4-0. The Bears are now 0-4 in a tough Region 12 that touts state-title contender Logan. It's going to take a big charge to get into the playoffs.
Defending 3A runner-up Morgan graduated a ton of players from last year's team, but the Trojans return senior Carson Flitton, who scored 10 goals last season. Region 13 doesn't give them too many breaks, but the Trojans are well-equipped for a high playoff seed.
Layton Christian is steamrolling 2A teams once again with returners such as Fredrico Tremonti and Jesus Tomasi. The Eagles, who are defending Region 16 champions, figure to be a state title contender.
St. Joseph held LCA to a 0-0 draw and comes into 2019 with a stingy defense. One focus will be goalscoring after the departure of leading scorer Bob Schoof, but the Jayhawks are in good position for a high playoff seed at the very least out of Region 16.
Last season was Utah Military's first competing in boys soccer and the Thunderbirds were held out of the win column. They've come achingly close to that first win this year, losing at Draper APA in extra time and losing 6-4 against Wendover.