By Joe Trost

With each passing year, soccer programs within the Noble League in Chicago continue to gain more and more respect.

After advancing to a Class 2A sectional final in 2018, Speer is hoping that was just the beginning of good things to come for its program and other charter teams from the 17-school league.

Let’s take a closer look at Speer’s preseason outlook presented by Mama Luna’s Pizzeria in Chicago, which features the 18 x 36 all-star pizza.

Head coach: Chris Johnson, second season, 17-4-2 career record.

Recent season results: 2018 – 17-4-2 overall; 9-0-1 record in Noble League; and lost in Class 2A sectional finals.

Top returnees: Christopher Garcia, Jr., G, 11 shutouts in 2018; Damien Sotelo, Sr., D; Gamaliel Cruz, Sr., D; and Osiel Cruz, Sr., D.

Top newcomers: Jeancarlo Duarte, So., M; and Aldo Barcenas, So., F.

2019 outlook: “We have a strong defense,” Johnson said. “The key will be replacing the scoring of the forwards and attacking midfield players who graduated.”

Keep an eye on: Junior midfielder Juan Nevarez, who does a little bit of everything on the field.

Making A Difference: Each Speer student athlete performs 100 community service hours throughout their high school career – 10 as a freshman; 20 as a sophomore; 30 as a junior; and 40 as a senior. If a student athlete doesn’t complete the service time within their school year, they are required to take summer class to make it up.

College-bound players: Osiel Cruz (undecided); Damien Sotelo (undecided); and Gamaliel Cruz (undecided).

Did you know? Speer is one of 17 charter high schools within the Noble League. Each of the charter schools are public and open to all students in Chicago. There is no testing required for admission. Speer celebrated its first graduating class in 2018.

Contact Joe Trost at

Bio on reporter: Joe Trost is an award-winning writer from the Star Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year and founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S. He also is a board member with Buddy’s HELPERS and the creator of the Making A Difference On AND Off The Field campaign.