Centennial's West one of a kind Sophomore's play striking on soccer field

September 27, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Even a knowledgeable soccer fan might watch Centennial striker Brian West play and assume he is a senior -- and then be embarrassed upon learning the truth.

West, who has four goals and one assist in Centennial's first two games, is just a 15-year-old sophomore.

But he's already a complete package of athleticism, speed, quickness and skill.

Centennial coach Bill Stara, a man prone to understatement when it comes to his team and players, is impressed.

"I haven't seen anyone in the state of Maryland who can go to the goal like him," Stara said.

And he should know. Stara not only coached West last high school season when West scored nine goals as a freshman, but also coached him this summer on the Columbia Darby, an under-15 team that won a regional club championship. West scored 21 goals for the Darby, about one per game.

"And he wasn't piggy about scoring," Stara said.

West scored three goals for the Eagles during a 13-minute stretch against Mount St. Joseph last week, and he made it look easy.

One of the goals was phenomenal. He faked out his defender and dribbled left around him before drawing out the goalkeeper and dribbling left around him to an open net.

The quickness of the moves left fans and the Mount St. Joseph players amazed, and his teammates later on sarcastically kidded him about his lack of creativity.

"As long as he stays motivated and keeps things in perspective, the older he gets, the better he'll get," Stara said. "Now he's playing against juniors and seniors and is one of the more dangerous front runners in Maryland. What will he be like in two years if he keeps developing?"

Stara said some college coaches, while scouting other players, asked about West last season.

"I told them to forget him, he's just a freshman. And they shook their heads in disbelief," he said.

Soccer began for West as merely a way to kill time after he moved to the county from Georgia in 1983. He comes from a football-playing family, but his mother pushed him in a different direction.

"I was skinny and my mom didn't want me to play football because she was afraid I'd get hurt," West said.

Ironically, West broke his leg during the state soccer championship game won by the Eagles last fall.

West's father, Larry, played defensive back for the University of Georgia and was on teams that won a Gator Bowl and a Peach Bowl. And Brian's older brother, Sean, played football at Centennial.

What does the Brian's father think about him playing soccer?

"He never pushed me," West said. "He just let me decide what I wanted to do."

While West slowly developed a taste for soccer, he used his natural athleticism to excel at another sport.

"My real sport was baseball," West said. "I played on an HCYP team, the Pirates, that lost only three games in four years."

Now, West has given up baseball, but he plays basketball for Centennial to fill in the gap between fall and spring soccer seasons. He hopes to play for the varsity basketball team this season.

He's 5 feet 8 and 140 pounds -- still not big enough for football in his estimation. So he's glad he's playing soccer successfully.

"What really got me hooked on soccer was watching and hearing about players like Malcolm Gillian [Oakland Mills], Todd Haskins [Howard] and Clint Peay [Oakland Mills]," West said. All three earned scholarships to Division I soccer schools.

An excellent student, West should have no problem following in those players' footsteps.

Centennial has an extremely young squad. Leadership on such a team is important, and West feels he can help provide it.

"On the field I don't feel like a sophomore," he said. "I feel like I can lead, although I know I have a lot more maturing to do."

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