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New coach, new attitude at Rockdale

CONYERS - Just like the Rockdale girls soccer team, the boys squad has a brand new head coach patrolling the sidelines this year.

Granville Ricketts takes over at the helm, and he could not be more excited about what this year holds for the Bulldogs.

"Our goals pretty much are to remain competitive throughout the season and at a minimum be in the regionals," Ricketts said.

Ricketts hails from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he was a head coach for the boys team there prior to moving to Conyers. For the past two years, he has been the Rockdale girls JV coach.

According to Ricketts, perhaps his team's greatest asset is its coachability, among other attributes.

"My greatest strength is the willingness of my players to give it their best shot," he said.

The Bulldogs return five varsity players to the field - team captains Brandon Story and Curly Ventura, Leonardo Gonzalez, Ken Shinmura and Josh Smith.

Rockdale has four seniors on this year's squad - Kevin Brawley, Patrick Myers, David Swanson and Jesus Martinez.

Rounding out the Bulldogs are sophomores Ivany Cobos, Orlando Duggan (goalkeeper), Jesus Riofrio and Giovanni Mendez along with freshmen Joaquin Munoz and Mauricio Reyes.

Though he is no stranger to soccer in Rockdale County, Ricketts cites Heritage and Salem as being his team's main concerns.

And in order for Rockdale to upend its crosstown rivals - particularly Salem tonight - it must adhere to what Ricketts preaches in practice.

"Our main focus is on ball possession and distribution across midfield and defending set pieces," he said.

In its season opener Monday evening, Rockdale was shutout 6-0 by Eagle's Landing at home.

SideBar: At A Glance

· Team: Rockdale boys soccer

· Coach: Granville Ricketts (first year)

· Last year's record: 2-11-2

· Next game: Tonight against Salem, 7:30 at Reid Stadium