Devin Pegues has a new identity on the soccer pitch for the Federal Way High School boys soccer team.
He’s gone from goal-stopper to goal-scorer.
It’s just one change in 2014 for the Eagles that could allow them to evolve and grow from an also-ran to a contender for the Class 4A state title.
To buck that trend of also-ran, it means experienced players must step into new roles of leadership and incorporate talented youth into the equation. So far, so good with a 5-0-1 start.
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Despite losing some serious firepower from last year’s state-qualifying squad, Federal Way still has enough talent left and appears poised to make a run at the school’s first state title.
“I don’t know if it’s our turn yet, but we’re going to do our best to make it our turn,” said Pegues, a senior and fourth-year starter at Federal Way who moved from defender to forward. “I think we might be a little bit better as a unit this year. We have a lot of younger guys, but we’re trying to give them pointers and help them so we can do our best.”
In particular, Pegues and Fernando Sanchez have emerged from reduced roles and the shadows of past Eagles stars Odasson Pelogi (15 goals, 14 assists), Alex Lewis (17 goals, 6 assists) and Edwin Ortiz (8 goals, 17 assists).
“I try to lead through action,” Pegues said.
The duo of Pegues and Sanchez is making up for the graduation loss of the high-scoring trio. The Eagles had the talent last season, but injuries and a tough first-round matchup against Snohomish resulted in a 3-0 loss and premature exit from the state playoffs.
“Coming in, I knew we would be organized defensively,” Federal Way coach Jason Baumgardt, a 1992 graduate of the school. “I wasn’t sure where our goals were going to come from, but obviously scoring 13 goals in two games, that’s the answer early and that’s a good sign.”
The Eagles have flown long enough in the shadow of achievements of crosstown rival Jefferson, the defending Class 4A state champion and big-school record-holder of eight state crowns. They want to make their own mark.
Baumgardt was unsure where or how many goals would come this season, but so far Pegues (6 goals, 3 assists) and Sanchez (5 goals, 4 assists) have put an end to that worry.
Federal Way, with five starters returning from 2013, have outscored opponents 23-4 with three shutouts.
The 6-foot-2 Pegues moved from right back position on defense for the last three years to forward this season and brings size and speed up front. Sanchez also switched from defender and midfielder to forward. Both moves have yielded early returns.
“We are just having guys play whatever position the team needed most,” said Pegues, who played forward on his U-18 Federal Way Football Club team. “This year we’ve moved people around to make our team stronger.”
Senior defender Garrett Brewer, a third-year starter, leads a whole new back line on defense at center back. That’s where Baumgardt’s trust in the defense started this season.
“We had a really good team last year,” Brewer said. “We’re still figuring things out so far, but we’re off to a good start.”
In the season-ending loss to Snohomish to open state, the Eagles (16-3) were without injured starters Brewer, center back Adam Crosby and playmaking midfielder Pelogi, who tried to play on a bad ankle but came off early.
“We were kind off our game that day,” Pegues said. “We had played TJ just two games before the Snohomish game and we almost beat them, actually (losing 4-3 in the final minute of the SPSL championship), so we were really looking forward to that rematch with them, but obviously that didn’t happen.
“Every year, we go out and do our best, try to win our league and put ourselves in a good position for state. Last year, we had more potential to do so, much more.”