World beaters? Just give the Cougars time

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By Brian Forbes

The Evergreen boys golf team will conquer the world this season. And you can print that.

OK, so that was only something Cougars coach Mike Kuzava said with a little jest, but can you find another coach that gets as excited about a season?

Keep looking.

The Cougars lost three seniors but reload with varsity veterans Ryan Hooks and Bryan Schlichter. And that is key to Kuzava — the Cougars reload rather than rebuild.

Hooks recently qualified for the World Junior Championships at the hallowed Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif. He finished tied for 12th at the Class 4A state tournament last prep season at The Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield after firing a 74 and 78 for a two-day total of 152.

Schlichter carded a 159 at state last year with rounds of 79 and 80 and has also been competing this summer in tournaments. Schlichter finished tied for 11th at the New Mexico State tournament in June when he shot a 75 and 73 to finish with a 148.

“We’re just young,” Kuzava said of the Cougars. “Other than Hooks and Schlichter, they are our only two seniors. So after that we’ve got about five juniors, but a few of them are first-time players ee so it’s going to be trial and error for a while to figure out who’s going to step up.”

The list begins with sophomore Tate Berry, sophomore Taylor Shillingburg, freshman Adam Zuckerman and junior Adam Reifman. Any of those players can shoot in the 70s on a given day, Kuzava believes, but to be successful, they will need a couple of them to shoot in the high 70s almost every day.

With a mixture of youth and inexperience, Kuzava sees the biggest challenge coming inside the players heads and how they interact with the courses they play.

Looking around the Jefferson County League, the field got a little easier as Ralston Valley makes the move up to 5A. That means D’Evelyn probably slides into the front seat, but the Cougars – if the intangibles start to click – could give the Jaguars a run for their money.

And after that, perhaps the Cougars just do win that world championship.