BELLEVILLE — The boys soccer coaching merry-go-round continues at Althoff, where Joe Burchett is the new man in charge.
Burchett, 46, takes over for Bernie Thebeau, who lasted just two seasons. Thebeau had replaced Matt Reeb, who coached one season. Reeb had replaced Brad Dietrich, who also coached one season after taking over for Juergen Huettner in 2009.
Burchett, then, becomes the Crusaders' fifth coach in the last six years.
"Ideally, I would like to (stick around)," said Burchett, a 1985 graduate of Collinsville High who has coached for 17 years at the club level. "I'm not going to be a one-and-done coach, so ideally I would be there to develop the program a little longer than the previous coaches apparently have.
"Nothing against them. I guess their situations called for them to leave. ... I look at it as an opportunity for me."
On the bright side, Burchett inherits a team that was 12-5-3 last season and returns many of the same players, including leading scorers Donovan Gagen (17 goals, seven assists), a sophomore forward, and Nick Harper (nine goals, 10 assists), a junior forward who also will see time in the midfield.
"Donovan's played club soccer for me for five years, so I know him really well," Burchett said. "And Nick Harper's back. Both are very speedy, gifted forward-type players, so I'm glad to have them back. And there's another junior, Hayden Buss, who's also got some wheels on him. He's extremely fast and I think he can run all day."
Senior Josh Davinroy is the Crusaders' captain and will be holding midfielder. He will be joined in the midfield by Buss, senior Shawn Robinson and sophomore Jacob Petry. Robinson is a transfer from a military family.
"He's big and strong and very patient with the ball," Burchett said. "I was really tickled to have him come here. The boys like him quite a bit. He's a nice kid, humble, (from) a good family."
Defenders will be seniors Jacob Haas and Bryce Tyler and sophomores Evan Toennies and Mitchell Palmer.
"He's another kid with great speed," Burchett said of Palmer. "He'll play in the back for us, but when opportunities come around, I'm going to give him chances to play up a little bit because he also has wheels on him."
Senior Max Orlet and Kody Turner will share goalkeeping duties, at least early in the season.
"They both offer something, so I want to give both of them a chance," Burchett said.
Senior Armand LeBeau, who had six goals and two assists last year, has been cleared to play after suffering a knee injury. Senior Trent Oelrich and sophomore Will Dall also are in the mix.
"I think we're pretty good," said Burchett, who lives in Maryville. "There's a nice group of seniors. There's only two juniors, but both are nice players. And we have a nice crop of sophomores. Those sophomores will certainly have to contribute. We have a lot of boys that started last year that will be back. I hope to have some success."
Burchett is looking forward to the different challenges of coaching at the high-school level.
"I'm ready," he said. "The only thing that's a little different is you get the boys who come to your school. It's, 'Here's who you have. Make it work.' With club soccer, we can pick and choose the players we want as opposed to, 'Here's what you have.'"
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.