CANNONSBURG From the outside looking in, the Salyerses, Gibsons and Lawsons are simply three sets of brothers playing on the same sports team.
Inside the world of Boyd County soccer, they’re Skeeter, Tarzan, Gibby, Tank, El Niño and Grandpa.
Lions coach Logan Price is a distributor of monikers.
El Niño “comes in like a storm,” Price said. That’s senior Dayne Lawson.
“It’s always exciting when Dayne comes into the game,” attested freshman Carter “Tank” Gibson.
Cameron Gibson, the middle brother between Boyd County graduate Kyle and Carter, might own the most nicknames — Papaw, Cap, Little General and Gibby are a few.
Alec Lawson, Dayne’s ninth-grade brother, is Grandpa because of his (lack of) speed.
“My main goal is to get faster,” he said. “We just got a soccer goal at home, so I’ve been playing a lot at home.”
Of the three sibling pairs, Cameron and Hayden Salyers perhaps push each other the most. They also produce laughter when talking about their alternate labels.
Cameron is Skeeter. Price drew inspiration from the animated 1990s comedy show “Doug” in handing out that one.
Hayden is Tarzan, partially thanks to Russell coach Randy Vanover, a former Lions assistant.
“Randy used to say, ‘If you’re going to talk a big game, you gotta back it up. If you’re gonna yell like Tarzan, you can’t play like Jane,’” Price said with a chuckle.
Cameron Gibson said while there are actual blood brothers on Boyd County’s squad, the bond reaches the entire group.
“We continue to build on our brotherhood,” Gibson said. “We’re always a family. As a family, we push each other with constructive criticism on the field. We just push each other to our limits, and that’s what helps us be successful.”
Cameron Gibson keeps a close eye on Carter, whom he persuaded to play soccer a few years ago.
“He never really believed me that it was physical because he came from a football background,” said Cameron, a center defensive midfielder. “I knew he had the skill level to play. He’s physical and aggressive and that’s how we play here. He’s big and mean, so he has the nickname ‘Tank’ for a reason.”
Carter joked that he was fond of his position — goalkeeper — because “I don’t have to run.” He will be the backup to Jack Samuel in front of the net.
“There’s a lot of times where I’ll go to say something to Carter, but I don’t even have to say it because I’ll hear Cameron behind me,” Price said.
According to Price, Cameron and Hayden Salyers “do not care to tell each other how they feel at any given time.”
Said Hayden: “I think it’s really hard for other people to tell us what we do wrong, but I’m not afraid to tell him what he did wrong and how to fix it. We help each other to make each other better.”
Cameron Salyers playfully claims that he “stole” Hayden’s sport. Hayden began kicking a ball around at age 4. Cameron didn’t give it a whirl until eighth grade as a result of coaxing from eventual teammates Ronnie Totten and Clayton Crum. He’s improved “exponentially,” he said.
Hayden Salyers nailed the net four times last season. With the graduation of high-scoring players Oliver Skaug and Luke Ellis, Hayden Salyers is the team’s third-ranked returning goal-finder behind Totten (eight) and Rylan Keelin (five). While versatile, Hayden will mostly play defense. Cameron expects to be a little bit of everywhere.
“Just gotta put my all in there and run my butt off, get some goals if I can, play defense, get assists,” Cameron Salyers said.
The elder Lawson is executing a double play this fall. He is suiting up for both the football and futbol teams.
“Logan’s really cool about it,” he said of his soccer coach. “... My goal is to make stuff happen.”
With a bull-headed style, Lawson quickly makes his presence known upon entering the pitch. He played in elementary school before taking a hiatus in middle school. Former Lion Jakob Williams swayed Lawson to rejoin the pack in high school.
Price enjoys watching the brotherly affection unfold.
“It’s really good to see those guys interact with each other and you can tell the love for each other,” Price said.
Price is looking to all three older brothers, along with a few others, to assume leadership roles in a hopeful repeat trek to a 16th Region title.
Price said he is pushing Totten every day, “not just to be a better player but to be a better leader. Ronnie’s a really smart kid. I told him, one day, he’s going to be the boss of men and women, so he’s going to have to learn to lead, and he does it by example. He’s not a big talker, but he’s a well-rounded kid, really dedicated to the team.”
Crum and Cameron Gibson are among others who exhibit standout leadership qualities, said their coach.
Boyd County shut out Fleming County and East Carter in the 2018 16th Region Tournament. The Raiders had knocked off perennial contender Rowan County in the semifinals.
The Lions are aiming to become the third program in a row to notch back-to-back 16th Region championships. Rowan County won in 2014 and ’15. East Carter claimed the ’16 and ’17 crowns.
“If we want to reach our goals, we can’t just say that last year was sufficient,” Price said. “We gotta be better this year because we know everybody’s going to be coming even harder.”
The Lions finished last season in the state quarterfinals, where they fell to Henry Clay.
Several northeastern Kentucky teams will open their season today. Boyd County is set to visit West Carter at 6 p.m.
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