Christopher Wuensch, CWuensch@ExplorerNews.com
Dec. 28, 2005 - An old sports cliché states that defense wins championships. At Mountain View High School, the boy's soccer team is finding the proverb may just be true.
Co-captains Thomas Bogart and Cole Honer are leading a Mountain Lions team that has jumped out to the best start in the program's history, thanks in large part to the team's first championship of the season, a five win sweep at the Chris Maier Invitational Dec. 17.
After 14 games this season, Mountain View enters its holiday break as owners of a 13-1 record and top spot in the Class 5A Southern Region.
All thanks to a staunch defense led by the senior duo of Bogart and Honer.
"We're pretty confident once we score that we'll pretty much get the win because our defense is pretty strong," said Honer, a center midfielder.
The pair head up a core of defensemen of football and baseball players without much soccer experience. Through the first two months of the season, the Mountain Lions defensive starters have allowed only two goals.
The two have different styles as co-captains but the results are basically the same.
"Thomas is a character, he embraces that role," said Mountain View head coach Bruce Hesse. "Cole is the quiet leader, he's a presence but people know he's there."
Both have been playing since age four, but Honer took some time off to nurse an ankle he has broken twice that is held together with the aid of screws.
While Honer heads up the midfield, Bogart is a brick wall on defense, where his skills as a defensive end on the school's football team come in handy.
On the field the two are stone-faced competitors. Away from the hash marks and goal posts, however, it's difficult to find a moment where they aren't sharing a laugh.
"He's a funny kid and we mess around a lot," said Bogart of Honer, a good friend since freshman year. "He's a really good soccer player, he won't say it himself, but he's a really good soccer player."
Honer feels the same way about his friend and teammate.
"He's kind of a goofy kid, not serious," said Honer. "I always feel confident with him behind me on the field."
Opponents aren't laughing. Mountain View had to knock off a tough Nogales High School team - the same team that has given them their only loss this season - to win the Chris Maier Invitational.
The hardest stretch of the season awaits the Mountain Lions when they return to the pitch Jan. 4. Mountain View will face Mesa Mountain View High School, Salpointe Catholic, Sierra Vista Buena High School and Tucson High School - teams with more 20 combined wins.
Even Bogart and Honer, two fiery competitors on the field, didn't see a start this good coming.
"I think that at the beginning of the season (we thought) we weren't going to do well at all," said Honer, citing the loss of a large senior class of nine starters. This year's squad is talented but young. There are only seven seniors on the squad.
The two chalk the team's success to its strong chemistry, where, opposed to year's past, everyone gets along well. Some of the team bonding, however, eludes both seniors, who admit they aren't big soccer fans outside of playing.
"I never watch soccer, ever," said Bogart with a laugh. "When they (teammates) are naming names, I have no clue who they are, it's kind of embarrassing a little bit."
Opposing offenses are beginning to find out who Bogart and Honer are. Both believe that if Mountain View can continue to clamp down on teams, then their goal of reaching the Elite-8 of the 5A state playoffs is possible.