Kyle Peterson may be the face of the foursome. After all, as a sophomore in 2011, he shot a 1-over-par 145 at Windsor's Pelican Lakes Golf Course to tie for seventh at the 4A boys golf state championship.
He even shot a 2-under 70 on the first day of the two-day competition, including five birdies. So he more than proved his worth.
But he's just one of four Evergreen High juniors — Kyle Malazdrewicz, Ben Moore and Luke Hadsell are the others — who are the nucleus for a 2012 boys golf team that hopes to keep pushing forward after a seventh-place team finish at state a year ago.
“(These) four guys will be the real power to the team, the real go-at-it guys — the strong part of the team,” said Peterson, a second-team 4A Jeffco League all-conference selection last season.
Peterson obviously is the cream of the crop, but the other three certainly carry their own weight. Case in point is Moore, who, in one of his six varsity tournaments in 2011 shot a 78 at Arvada's Indian Tree Golf Course to help the Cougars finish, as they normally did, in the top half of Jeffco League meets. It was a pleasant surprise, coach Mike Kuzava said.
“They've become very dedicated. … They're doing what it takes to get there. They're going all out. That's what it takes,” Kuzava said. “They're not all in the same place. They're each in a different place, but they're coming together. By next year, when they're all seniors, I'm hoping they'll be at their best. It might the best team we've had.”
Evergreen, which also returns fellow state qualifier Sam Theil, qualified an entire team for state last year out of the 4A Metro Regionals, despite placing third. Only the top two teams automatically qualify for state, but EHS got four to state nevertheless due to their play at regionals.
Having to replace state qualifiers Adam Zuckerman and Braden Olson isn't so much pressure, Moore said, as much as it is just playing on the varsity squad itself. That will be the true test for a team looking to establish itself among the state's elite.
They almost certainly are the favorite to win the 4A Jeffco League this season after the departure of Valor Christian. And though Valor Christian is a challenge in its own right, the Cougars might be better off without it in the conference, Hadsell said.
“Now without them we're only going to get stronger,” Hadsell said. “We're still playing many of the same kids, but I feel like we'll be good. We'll be trying to get first in the league.”
That's not to say that Evergreen won't concern itself with the remaining teams in the 4A Jeffco League; they will, Hadsell said. If anything, without Valor Christian to compete with for league supremacy, the Cougars may be more motivated to be the team to beat.
“Our motivator for the team is winning the league and for all four going to regionals to make it to state,” Moore said.
While Peterson has his personal goals, like placing in the top five, as a team he's hoping for a repeat trip to state. Who knows, maybe the Cougars will be one of the top teams at the state competition. It's certainly not out of the question.
Head coach: Mike Kuzava
Classification: 4A Jeffco
Players to watch: Kyle Peterson, Jr., Ben Moore, Jr., Kyle Malazdrewicz, Jr.; Luke Hadsell, Jr.
Season opener: Aug. 14, at Broadlands Golf Course, Broomfield, 9 a.m.
State finals: Oct. 1-2, Cobble Creek Golf Course, Montrose
Outlook: Evergreen returns Peterson, who finished seventh at the 4A state tournament last year. Joining him are three other juniors, who coach Mike Kuzava says were responsible for the turnaround of the Cougars' program. “I like our chance in league. We're probably the favorite in the league,” Kuzava said. “We could finish Top 10 in the state.”