After being hired a month before the start of last season, Nichols found himself trying to organize practices, recruit players for his team, and round them into shape for the season.
Nichols had to use three players from the girls’ team to round out his roster.
The end result was a 3-11 record and a first round exit in the district tournament
"There hasn’t been the rush there was last year. Our roster is set, and we’re not scrambling to find players at the last minute like we were last year," Nichols said.
One thing the extra time has allowed Nichols to do is work on conditioning. With just 16 players on his roster, conditioning will be key.
The Wildcats must replace All-Region player Josh Cain, who scored 13 of Trigg’s 25 goals last year, and All-District goalie J.R. Davis.
"We can’t fill Cain’s or J.R.’s shoes, but top to bottom, we’re better than last year," Nichols said.
Returning for the Wildcats is forward Nick Woodruff, who was second on the team in scoring last year with five goals.
He’ll be joined up front by freshman A.J. Bridges.
"We’ll put Nick and A.J. up front together, because we’re going to need A.J.’s speed," Nichols said.
Midfielders Bradley Darnall, T.C. Butts, and Jeremy Reed, all who also scored a goal last year, also return.
Sophomore Cole Davis, who transferred from DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, will also hold things down at midfield.
"He came from a really good program in Louisville and has good foot skills. He’ll kind of be our quarterback in the middle of the field and control things for us. We’re fortunate to get him," Nichols said.
Speed on defense was a problem last year for the Wildcats, who gave up seven or more goals six times last year.
Nichols feels his defense will be improved this year with the additions of Brent Weitting, Derek Burkhart and Grayson Taylor.
"Brent didn’t play last year but played two years ago, and the other two are new," Nichols said. "But our defense up the middle will be much better."
Senior Jacob Wadlington returns to his sweeper position on defense to add some experience and leadership to the unit.
Sophomore Kirk Garner debuts in goal for the Wildcats in his first year of playing varsity soccer.
"We have some athletes, but they just aren’t soccer players yet. We’ll be much better toward the end of the season than we are now," Nichols said.
Recruiting players to the varsity team may now be a thing of the past with 22 players on the junior varsity roster. Because most of them are middle
schoolers, they can’t play in a varsity match because KHSAA rules prohibit middle schoolers from playing in varsity contact sports such as soccer and football.
"Some of those players could have helped us and would have seen some time for us this year. But they should be ready in the upcoming years," Nichols said.
The Wildcat skipper again sees Lyon County as the favorite to win the district.
"They are the class of the region right now. That leaves Caldwell County and us for the second spot. We should be capable of playing with them," he said.
After consecutive three-win seasons, Nichols is looking to score a few more wins in 2004.
"We’re not looking at a total number of wins, but I’ll be disappointed if we don’t have a winning season. We’d like to get back into the region tournament also," he said.
Trigg County opens the season Monday at Fort Campbell and Tuesday at Christian Fellowship.
"We need to break the habit of losing. It doesn’t upset them like it should. They need to realize that success is attainable," Nichols said.