After a historic run to the KHSAA Final Four, the Hopkinsville Tigers back in 2019 and return a bulk of the team that went further than any Hoptown team in program history.

But, Tiger coach Tyler Stallons knows last year's team that made the tournament run isn't this team.

"Starting with even last year's team, they're last year's team," he said. "You're not the year before, you're your own team and each team has its own identity and each team kind of gets to determine what they do. Last year's success, failure, whatever it winds up being doesn't dictate that season. As soon as we start 2019, there's not a champion. Last year's success is not doing to dictate whether we do well this year."

The Tigers lost Ryan Roussel and Zach Moore to graduation, but the Tigers still have plenty of players that made an impact a year ago.

"We bring back a lot of players but those players have to work to get better because other teams are," he said. "We can't assume that we're going to be granted success just based on last year's results. If that was the case, why play some of these games."

Stallons said they have a few players that can make a splash this season but it's not going to be a one-may show when the season starts.

"I think we're going to be more of a committee," he said. "Right now, we don't have a guy that's going to be a Ryan or a Zach. But it may be harder to defend five guys than one. I've got some guys that are trying to become the guy."

One area Stallons is excited about is his defense.

The Tigers bring back their entire backline but also standout senior Xavier Bussell in goal.

Bussell was left off a postseason team year ago, which pushed him to another level in the Tigers' playoff run.

"A lot of people don't realize it, but X has saved our season the last two years in PK shootouts," he said. "He made us go to the next level. A lot of look at 'Oh he allowed this goal or he allowed that goal' but we wouldn't have been there to get that if it wasn't for him."

But with the excitement in the defense, there comes expectations as well.

The Tigers gave up 52 goals last season and Stallons said that's an area of emphasis going into 2019.

"This year focus is on not giving up as many goals because I don't think we're going to score as many," he said. "We may not score 100 goals as a team like we have the last several years. We may win a lot of games 1-0 or be 0-0 and sneak one in toward the end of the game. That's part of it. I think we'll frustrate some teams in that capability with our defense but they still got to show up and show out."

The Tigers bring back Tyler Greenwell and his 16 goals last season, which was good for second on the team.

See Tigers/Page B3

One area that they'll miss two of their graduating seniors is in the assist category. Hoptown had 52 assists last season with 42 coming from the feet of Moore and Roussel.

Despite that, Stallons is still ready to go to war with the roster he has as most of them have significant postseason experience.

"Most of these guys playing bulk minutes had the pressure of a final four game in a monsoon," he said. "Nothing that we play in regular season should compare to that."

Hoptown starts the season at 6 p.m. Monday at home against Logan County.

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