Grand County High School senior Rylan Ruggeri, right, rushed toward the ball during a home game against Gunnison Valley on Thursday, March 10. While the Red Devils suffered a 2-1 loss during that game, they rebounded on Tuesday, March 15, to beat Emery 3-2. [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

The Grand County boys soccer team kicked the 2016 season off right, defeating South Sevier in Monroe 4-2 on Tuesday, March 8. After a hard-fought 2-1 loss at home to Gunnison on Thursday, March 10, Grand rebounded to beat Emery 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday, March 15.

Mike Camps has returned to the sideline this year for Grand after leaving the team prior to the 2015 season, a season which saw Grand go 1-10 under first-year coach Mick Dunlavey.

Camps said this year’s team is about double the size of the 2015 squad, and the players are eager to have success on the field.

“These kids love soccer,” Camps said. “They are willing to learn, they want to learn and they’re very receptive to what we’re teaching.”

The influx of players and renewed excitement have already translated into two victories. Senior Rylan Ruggeri scored a pair of goals, while senior Joseph Shumway and sophomore Jacob Shumway each added a goal in the 4-2 win versus South Sevier. Freshman Kane Scherer was the lone goal scorer in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Gunnison.

Camps said a couple of missed opportunities, including a missed penalty kick, as well as a single defensive error in the second half, cost the Red Devils versus the Bulldogs.

“We had run of the game; we had our chances,” Camps said. “We just couldn’t capitalize; couldn’t find the back of the net.”

Not to be discouraged by the loss, Grand rebounded to defeat Emery 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday, March 15. The Red Devils, who were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the 2A Central division, have a goal this year to return to the playoffs. The Red Devils are 34 players deep, including seniors Ruggeri, Joseph Shumway and newcomer Chris Marquez. Camps said the rest of the team is made up of 5-6 juniors and about 25 freshmen and sophomores.

“These boys are ready to play, they’re excited to play,” he said. “They really want to be here.”

The Red Devils’ goal is to return to the playoffs, Camps said.

“Not that the games aren’t fun now, but that second season is when it really gets fun,” he said. “That’s their goal. They didn’t have to have it laid out by the coaches.”

The Red Devils have one final match prior to spring break as they welcome South Sevier to Moab on Thursday, March 17, at 4 p.m.

Grand beats South Sevier, Emery; aims for return to playoffs

“These boys are ready to play, they’re excited to play. They really want to be here.”

When: Thursday, March 17, 4 p.m.

Where: Grand County High School soccer pitch, 608 S. 400 East