It was 2008, and Ottumwa senior Aaron Rose was helping his Bulldog boys soccer team to its best-ever season.
The Bulldogs finished 11-3 overall that year and advanced to the second round of the substate tournament. Rose was a big part of that on the field.
Now, just four years later, when the Bulldogs open the soccer season with a contest at Oskaloosa tonight, Rose will be the man in charge on the sidelines.
Rose is Ottumwa’s new head soccer coach, replacing 2011 interim coach Jeff Ebling. Rose has two years of experience as an assistant coach at Ottumwa, two years of playing experience at Indian Hills, and one more soccer season to go as a student-athlete at William Penn University.
He also has a difficult task — but he’s up to the challenge.
“I have a passion for the game, a passion for soccer and for Ottumwa,” said Rose. “I’ve seen a lot of these kids over the years, and always had the goal of being a head soccer coach. I’ve been here learning for a couple of years, and decided it was time to take the reins.”
Rose is grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s very gratifying, to be given this chance,” he said. “I believe I’m ready.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a difficult 2011 season. Ottumwa started the season with a respectable record, but spiraled downward after that, losing nine straight games on the way to a 4-14 overall record. The Bulldogs were trounced by Muscatine 8-2 in the first round of substate.
“We were young last year,” said Rose. “We have seven returning seniors this year, and that experience will be a strength. To turn the corner, we’ll need to build on that strength and focus on addressing and improving our weaknesses.”
The seven returning seniors include Danton Irelan — who has already earned a scholarship at Drake — as well as Ceasar Botello, Tyler Brechon, Hilario Chacon, Kevin Gonzalez, Denny Guido and Jose Leon.
“That senior talent and experience is a big strength,” said Rose. “We have a lot of speed up top — but a huge strength will be in the midfield. That whole middle of the field is all seniors, they’re all good and they’re all experienced.”
The Bulldogs are made up of 20 players this season. An underclassman who stands out is freshman Osvaldo Trejo, who will get the start tonight at Oskaloosa. Others who will contribute include junior Charlie Altfillisch and Jonas Conrad — an exchange student from Germany.
Rose seemed anxious to get the season started.
“We just need to get out and do what we need to do,” said Rose. “As long as everyone does what they’re supposed to do we should be successful.”