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KNOXVILLE — After their historic run to state in 2019, the Knoxville boys soccer team is back with their sights set at picking up where they left off before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season.

Dylan Mick enters his ninth season as head coach with the Panthers, accumulating a 74-48 record in that time.

Mick losses 14 seniors from that state qualifying team and only returns four, who all saw limited time that season.

But several young guys have stood out to Mick in the early going in the likes of freshmen Jay Keller, Connor Willis and Kolton Dejong. He has also been impressed with the skill and ability of sophomores Bryce Meiter and Luka Dejong, who both could be key contributors this season.

“Our strength will initially be in our attack as that is where our best and most experienced players are,” Mick said. “Initially our defense will be very green and will take some time to gel but will have ample opportunity to come together as a unit and build into a strength as the season goes on.”

Knoxville is the reigning South Central champs after going 14-5 and 6-1 in conference play in 2019, they will hope to repeat as SCC champions but will be challenged with non-conference matchups against Pella, Newton, Grinnell and Bondurant-Farrar.

“My overall outlook is optimistic as we have talented players,” Mick said. “Our biggest issue will be a lack of experience but that is remedied with time and games. We have a lot of very hungry and talented young players that will have a lot of opportunity to grow, and by seasons end, be a cohesive squad that is capable of playing our style and making a run in the postseason as that is our goal each year.”

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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