Brian Roe walked off the field at Tampa's Pepin/Rood Stadium last February a hero. He had just faced 28 shots from Flagler Palm Coast in the Class 3A state championship game, saved 10 of those shots and recorded a shutout in the Tornadoes' 1-0 victory.
Teammates and opponents praised his effort. No matter how hectic things got around his net, Roe remained calm.
"Brian Roe was huge in that game," Clearwater coach Bruce Toscani said. "He got better and better as the playoffs went on."
Rewind to 1998.
Roe is a freshman at Clearwater. A club player since he was 10, he tries out for the varsity team as a defender. An illness keeps him out of practice for two days. On final cut day, Roe's name is not on the roster.
He does make the practice squad, but his confidence is shot.
"I really didn't feel part of the team," Roe said. "I was on the practice squad. I wasn't playing."
Roe continues to play defender for his Palm Harbor club team. Prior to his sophomore season, he hears Clearwater needs a goalkeeper. Last season's starter graduated and the position was open.
Roe hasn't played goalkeeper since his under-11 team, but if that's what it takes to make the high school team, then that's what he'll do. He went to tryouts without practicing goalkeeping, but he did well enough to make the team.
"I'd played (goalkeeper) before, but not for a while," Roe said. I played on and off, then in the districts I played every game."
Clearwater made it to the regional semifinal in Roe's sophomore season before a 4-2 loss to Brandon.
Entering his junior year, Roe had a new coach to impress. Steve Lindsay was replaced by Toscani. Roe did well enough to keep his starting job. He had no idea what the season had in store.
"After six months of club, once high school starts, you're kind of burned out," Roe said. "The regular season seemed long. You get sick of it. But once it really mattered if we won or lost, it was time to start playing."
There was no anxiety at this season's tryout. One doesn't cut a state-champion goalkeeper. Roe will be in the net for what promises to be a successful season.
"We're really, really good," Roe said. "We could go undefeated. We've got a lot of talent on this team."
FOR THE FANS
ADMISSION: Most schools charge $3
REGULAR SEASON: The season began Monday and will continue through Jan. 25. District tournaments begin the week of Jan. 28. Regional tournaments are Feb. 7-15. The state tournament is Feb. 21-23.
KEY DATES: Tonight: Clearwater at Countryside (key district match right off the bat); Nov. 20: Lakewood at Tampa Jesuit (district showdown); Nov. 26-30: PHU Hurricane Watch tournament (East Lake, Seminole, PHU, Osceola, St. Petersburg and Countryside); Nov. 27: Osceola at Jesuit (longtime rivalry renewed); Dec. 4: PHU at East Lake (rivalry now has district implications); Jan. 21-25: PCAC Tournament.
WHAT'S NEW: The districts are once again realigned. Pinellas Park is this year's winner of the "Class 4A award," which means it gets the honor of being the only Pinellas school in the largest classification and must travel to Bradenton and Sarasota. East Lake and Palm Harbor University shared that honor in the past.
_ Compiled by Rodney Page.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
TED ANDERSON, Jr., F, CC Catholic: Anderson was a starter as a sophomore and was a major contributor. He'll be paired with Patrick Beliveau up front and CCC coach Jim Harte expects big things. Anderson could score plenty of goals, even against the tough teams on CCC's schedule.
BRANDON GILES, Sr., F, Seminole: A three-year starter, Giles had 22 goals last season for the Warhawks. He adds the dimension of being an unselfish player, willing to notch an assist as well as a goal. With a talented cast around him, Giles will be free to be creative this season.
STEVE GOODROW, Sr., F, Clearwater: Goodrow scored 14 goals and had 10 assists for the state champion Tornadoes. With that experience under his belt, look for Goodrow to have a big season. Most of his teammates are back, so that familiarity should mean more goals and assists.
ASMIR PERVAN, Jr., M, Northeast: The Vikings' leading scorer, Pervan was a key player in Northeast's turnaround last season. With most of the Vikings defense graduated, Pervan will be asked to lead on offense. A skilled player, he can also set up goals and play defense.
BRIAN ROE, Sr., G, Clearwater: The bigger the game, the better Roe plays. He has shared time with various keepers since his sophomore year, but he is always the choice come playoff time. Roe was huge in last year's run to a state championship, recording a shutout in the state final.
_ Compiled by Rodney Page.
DISTRICT BREAKDOWN Last year's record in parenthesis
CLASS 4A, DISTRICT 6
TEAMS: Pinellas Park (6-6-3), Bradenton Manatee, Sarasota Riverview, Sarasota, Venice
OUTLOOK: The Patriots were competitive last season at 6-6-3 and lost 1-0 to eventual state champion Clearwater in the district tournament. Playing in this district will be tougher, and travel won't be easy.
CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 11
TEAMS: Clearwater (15-5-3), Countryside (12-8-3), Dunedin (4-9-1), East Lake (3-11-1), Largo (5-7-2), Palm Harbor University (17-7-1)
OUTLOOK: This newly aligned district brings back the East Lake/PHU rivalry. State champion Clearwater should be the team to beat. The Tornadoes return top players Steve Goodrow and Buster Wiand as well as goalkeeper Brian Roe. Countryside should be much improved with returners Brian Linn and Mark Swan and newcomer Randy McFarland. PHU, Largo and East Lake, despite last year's record, will not be pushovers.
CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 12
TEAMS: Boca Ciega (4-8-3), Dixie Hollins (2-13), Gibbs (0-16), Northeast (9-5-1), St. Petersburg (7-8-4), Seminole (14-4-4)
OUTLOOK: Northeast and Seminole appear to have the most talented team, but St. Petersburg and yes, Gibbs, should be more competitive. The Warhawks have senior forward Brandon Giles as well as midfielders Phil Caldwell and Steven Toccalino.
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 9
TEAMS: Lakewood (10-1-4), Osceola (14-3-2), Tarpon Springs (11-7-2), Tampa Blake, Brandon, Tampa Jefferson, Tampa Jesuit, Tampa Robinson, Tampa Bay Tech
OUTLOOK: Osceola will miss the goal scoring of Jason Zoffinger and the goal stopping of keeper Kyle Craig, but Luis Nieto and Ryan Spyker should pick up the load. Lakewood and Tarpon Springs are other contenders. Jesuit, a regular in the state tournament, should be the class of the district.
CLASS A, DISTRICT 6
TEAMS: Clearwater Central Catholic (15-6-2), Berkeley Prep, Tampa Catholic
OUTLOOK: With the top two schools advancing to regionals, it's a safe bet CCC will move out of this district. CCC coach Jim Harte is excited about the season, and with returners Patrick Beliveau, Nathan Whitley, David Shreck, Ted Anderson and Billy Williams, it's easy to see why.
CLASS A, DISTRICT 7
TEAMS: Indian Rocks Christian (4-7-1), St. Petersburg Catholic (6-5-1), Shorecrest (5-10-1), Sarasota Cardinal Mooney
OUTLOOK: St. Petersburg Catholic is out of CCC's shadow and is the district favorite. Shorecrest suffered from graduation.
_ Compiled by Rodney Page.