Hopkinsville's Jose Favela missed two games during last year's postseason run after a suspension, but on Monday he made his presence known in a big way when he scored the first of three Tiger goals as they took down Logan County, 3-0, in the season opener at the Stadium of Champions.
After a foul in the box, Favela stepped up to take the penalty kick and buried it.
"We have to just show other teams that we're ready," he said. "(We) came out strong and we have to keep getting stronger."
Hoptown boys' soccer coach Tyler Stallons said Favela isn't going to have the same job this season as he did last year.
"He's going to play a different role this year," Stallons said. "Last year, he was mainly in the back and he's going to slide more at a center-mid kind of role this year. It's going to be a little bit different for him."
That kick was the lone goal in the first half for the Tigers as they held a 1-0 lead over Logan County after holding the Cougars to only three shots in the first half as Xavier Bussell and Manny Martinez combined for the clean sheet in the Tigers' opener.
In the second half, Preston Durham scored on a corner kick to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Stallons could be heard yelling from the sideline to play their game and after two attempts to go short on the corner kick, the Tigers went long on their third attempt and Durham was waiting.
Stallons said playing the long game is going to be key this season.
"I'm trying to get them to realize all the chances that we don't score, will lead up to the chances that we do score," he said. "The short passes, even in possession, those little short passes, they're not covering that much space, but you're sucking defenders in, you're opening up the long game. You don't have the long game if you suck defenders in.
"We have a set thing we're going to do until other teams adjust then we're going to do some different, then we're doing to do something different. We have a lot of different things set up because I know that we're going to have to score in a lot of different ways this year."
Hoptown's final goal came off the foot of Steven Hermosillo and it could be the first of many for the Tiger senior if his coach has his way.
"I told Steven, you should score 15 goals this year off of rebounds," he said. "Welby's (Horn) goes to strike it well and he's going to give up some rebounds and Tyler's (Greenwell) going to strike it well and give up some rebounds. If he'll just crash and lets that guy cough it up to him and punch it in, that's part of the game. We may not score a bunch of beautiful goals but we're going to grind it out and make it really tough for teams to score and I thought we did that."
The Tigers don't have much time to savor the win as they'll hit the pitch again today at the Stadium of Champions as they take on South Warren.
Stallons said he knew Logan County was going to give the Tigers its best shot and he knows they'll see that kind of effort every game this season as teams across western Kentucky want to take down Hoptown.
"Most teams are going to be ready to play us and try to beat us," he said. "It's been like that for a few years. We just got to come out and play out style and not worry about who we're playing on any given night and just play our best each night. That's what we have to do."
Hopkinsville 3, Logan County 0
HHS (1-0) 1 2 -- 3
LCHS (0-1) 0 0 -- 0
HHS: Favela (goal, assist); Durham (goal), Hermosillo (goal)