College Park has a new face on the sideline this year.
Coach Joe Berezoski, or “Coach Bear” as athletes have called him throughout his 35-plus year career, has taken over the reins of a successful Cavaliers program following the departure of its first-ever coach, John Owens.
Owens, who started the program when the school first opened, left his post this past offseason to become an administrator with Willis ISD. He left behind a legacy of success, which included a run to the Class 6A state tournament just two years ago.
Berezoski has coached football, track and field, basketball and cross country in addition to soccer and has made stops at La Porte, Goose Creek, Aldine, Crosby and Clear Lake ISDs over the years.
Berezoski is excited about the challenge that lies ahead for the Cavaliers this season. College Park was the No. 1 team in Region II-6A preseason rankings from the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches.
College Park was tied for fourth place in the District 15-6A standings last year when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the season. The Cavaliers wrapped up their campaign with a 9-6-3 overall record.
“We’ve got to be grateful that we’re actually getting to play,” Berezoski said. “The kids are really grateful about that. They’re enjoying it and working hard, and there’s no complaints. We’re just facing the reality of what could happen.”
Senior midfielder Andres Romero is one of the key players back in the fold this season after earning first-team all-district honors last year. Junior forward A.J. Vera is also a key returner after earning a second-team nod last season.
“He played on the team that went to state and played a lot for them as a freshman,” Berezoski said. “Solid, solid player. He’s very aggressive, very physical.”
Sophomore midfielder Alessio de Pippo has plenty of potential, and goalkeeper Alvaro Mora is back after starting last season.
“He’s a pretty solid keeper, and as a matter of fact, I have about five solid keepers,” Berezoski said. “That’s my position where I’ve got the most competition on the whole team.”
College Park will have its work cut out this season, even without competing against the Klein ISD schools for playoff positions. The Cavaliers will face familiar foes Conroe, The Woodlands and Oak Ridge in the new District 13-6A. Grand Oaks and Willis have made the jump from Class 5A to round out the six-team league.
“We lost Klein, which is a lot of quality teams,” Berezoski said. “In the Conroe district, though, you’ve got The Woodlands, which year in and year out is a top 15-20 team in the state. Conroe, they got a good coach in there the last couple years, and they’re really solid.
“Oak Ridge has picked it up also, and they beat College Park last year in one of the (district) games. Then Grand Oaks and Willis are new, but I know they’ve got some quality players. Even though we’re just a six-team district, it’s still going to be a dogfight.”