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Eye on Preps: Soccer coach, wife feel different kick

You can't blame Josh Newton if he has been thinking about more than soccer for the past few weeks.

The Buhach Colony soccer coach and his wife, Elizabeth, are expecting their first child.

"I've tried to keep one ear listening to what's happening on the field and one ear listening for my phone," Newton said.

"I've got a guy ready to stand in for me if it happens.

Of course, Newton means standing in for him on the sideline.

Not at the hospital.

Newton has tried to take every precaution if his daughter decides to come into the world during the game.

He carries his cell phone on him at all times. He follows the team bus in his car in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

"I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to hear the phone when we played Atwater," Newton said. "There were just so many people there and it was so loud."

There was also the time Newton thought he might have missed the call.

He looked at his phone during a game and saw he'd missed a call.

Fortunately, it wasn't the big call.

"Our last game against Atwater is on our anniversary," Newton said. "My wife jokes that I'll be at a soccer game when our baby is born -- and our anniversary, too."

* * *

Speaking of the regular-season soccer finale between Atwater and Buhach Colony...

After drawing a crowd of close to 2,000 for a night game last week, the two teams may do it again.

Newton has talked to Atwater coach Jimmy Brewer about playing the Oct. 25 game at Falcon Field under the lights.

The game is currently scheduled for a 4 p.m. start at Buhach.

"We might do a dual senior night, where we honor both senior classes before the game," Newton said.

The two teams tied 2-2 in their first meeting.

Buhach Colony (6-0-2 Central California Conference) currently sits atop the standings. Atwater is right behind at 5-0-3.

* * *

Jarrett Sparks is making traveling plans.

Merced's star receiver will make the first of his official recruiting visits this weekend when he travels to Tempe, Ariz. to visit Arizona State.

Sparks will watch the Sun Devils face Washington on Saturday.

Sparks also has a trip to Oregon State scheduled for Nov. 10. However, he hopes

to reschedule it so he can make the trip to Berkeley to watch Cal play USC.

"I'm kind of leaning toward Cal right now," Sparks said. "I want to get my official visits in.

"I don't know a lot about the other schools. I want

to take these visits and learn about them."

Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State have all offered Sparks scholarships.

Colorado and Fresno State also have shown interest lately.

"I talked to Colorado (on Tuesday)," Sparks said. "They called last week, too. They said they have a couple of my tapes from the Madera and Crenshaw games."

* * *

Buhach Colony will retire the jersey of former player

Joshua Pickard Friday night before Buhach plays Merced at Falcon Field.

Pickard graduated from Buhach Colony in 2004.

The former U.S. Marine was killed in Iraq in December.

Pickard was a nephew of Merced coach Rob Scheidt.

The ceremony is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.

* * *

It's still tough for Golden Valley volleyball coach Matt Thissen to look down the court and see one of his former players wearing the black and orange of Merced.

Merced coaches Brooke Wilson and Casey Dockstader both played for Thissen at Golden Valley.

"I just wish it were anywhere but Merced," Thissen said.

"If they were wearing blue and yellow or green and purple, it would be a lot easier.

"But I'm proud of both of them. When you look back at all the different players who played for you, there are obviously some that stick out.

"Both of them stuck out because of all the hard work they put in here."

Wilson is getting used to the new colors.

"It's bittersweet when we play," Wilson said. "I want to run my own program. That's why I went to Merced.

"I told Thissen I want to give him some competition. That's why I went across town.

The mentor got the best of the pupil earlier this week when GV edged Merced 3-2 in a five-game thriller.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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