By John Philip Wyllie
A year ago, the Bonita Vista Barons recovered from a slow start to win the Mesa League boys soccer championship and advance to the CIF Division I San Diego section final. Many of the players that made that team a success have now moved on, so if the Barons are to achieve the same kind of success this year it will be due to some new faces. One of those belongs to the Barons crafty sophomore center midfielder, Arturo Cuevas.
“Arturo is the best sophomore player that I have had here in six or seven years,” said veteran Barons coach, Jason Murphy. “He has gone above and beyond anything that I expected from him. He runs our midfield and he has a nose for the goal. He is a little young to be bossing the older players around, but he takes control of the game by the way he plays. He doesn’t have to be very verbal out there. He just goes out and takes care of business. The other players have totally accepted him and they follow his lead. He excites me. I can’t wait to have him here for the next three years.”
Cuevas grew up in Mexico and began his athletic career at the tender age of five on the baseball diamond.
“After we won the championship my mom asked me what I wanted (as a reward). I told her I wanted to play soccer,” Cuevas said.
“Baseball wasn’t really that much fun. My cousins were all playing soccer at that time and they encouraged me to play. In Mexico, I started with indoor soccer and that is a much faster game, so I think it helped to improve my skills. I didn’t start playing outdoor soccer until I arrived here (in the U.S.) at the age of nine.”
Improving his technique through years of playing for top level club teams like the Rebels, Nomads and Rangers, Cuevas was confident that he would make Bonita Vista’s varsity team this season. He had no idea however, that he would become the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore. He has set a sizzling pace notching nine goals in his first 12 games. At 4-5-3, his Barons are off to a much better start than last year’s team.
“We lost nine seniors from that team, so this year it’s almost a whole new team. Our goal is to repeat what they accomplished last season.” Naturally, if they are fortunate enough to make it to the CIF final, they hope to win it this time around.”
As a sophomore, college is still several years away, but Cuevas is already planning ahead.
“Right now, I am focusing more on my grades. Soccer comes second. When the time comes, I’ll be looking for a scholarship. If I can combine both school and sports to get into a great university I will be more than happy to play there.”
Feeling totally accepted Cuevas downplays the fact that he is the only sophomore on the varsity team. He doesn’t even mind that as the team’s youngest player he is stuck with the daily task of carrying the balls to and from practice. With nine goals in 12 games that bag of balls is not the only thing he is carrying.