Hillcrest boys repeat as district champs

Hillcrest players celebrate defeating Rigby 4-1 in the 5A District 5-6 boys soccer title game Wednesday at McCowin Park.

Hillcrest’s Seth Redd (13) moves the ball past Rigby’s Adan Murillo to score a goal in Wednesday’s 5A District 5-6 boys soccer title game at McCowin Park.

Hillcrest’s Jesse Arellano gains control of the ball over Rigby’s Mackenzie Bingham in Wednesday’s 5A District 5-6 boys soccer title game at McCowin Park.

Hillcrest’s Tofik Haws maintains control of the ball to score in Wednesday’s 5A District 5-6 boys soccer title game at McCowin Park.

The Hillcrest High School boys soccer posed a rhetorical question to itself following Wednesday afternoon’s 4-1 win over Rigby in the 5A District 5-6 title match.

“Who’s best?” is the question, barked out on this occasion by Hillcrest principal Scott Miller.

The rest of the team answered in cadence with — you guessed it, “Hillcrest!”

And it sounded something like this: “Who’s best? Hillcrest! Who’s best? Hillcrest! Who’s best? …” and so it goes.

The Knights overpowered the visiting Trojans at McCowin Park, getting one goal in the first half and three more in the second, dominating possession to join the state tournament at 12-1-3.

Wednesday’s win not only gave Hillcrest an unblemished record against its conference opponents, it was also the first time a 5A District 5-6 team had defended its conference title since 2009 (Idaho Falls).

Who’s best indeed.

“We are brothers,” Hillcrest senior Seth Redd said. “We know each other’s tendencies and play as one. Now we just need to go over to state in Boise and get it done.”

Redd scored two of the Knights’ goals, finding the back of the net twice in the second half. Redd’s first goal came in the 48th minute on an assist from Jesse Arellano, and his second came 25 minutes later on a converted through ball.

Hillcrest senior midfielder Jordan Martin opened the scoring in the 21st minute with some assist help from fellow midfielder Caleb Speirs.

Junior forward Tofik Haws rounded out the Hillcrest scoring in the 73rd minute with an assist from Arellano.

“We set a goal before the season and focused on what we had to do to accomplish that goal,” Arellano said. “Now we have a new goal, and we are going to take that focus to Boise.”

Rigby got its lone goal in the 77th minute on a penalty kick from Jair Sierra. The Trojans will host a winner-to-state elimination game Saturday afternoon against rival Madison at Rigby High School.

Rigby’s 10-7-0 record set a new record for wins. Trojans’ senior captain Ryker Ritchie is aware of that fact, but says his team has unfinished business where breaking new ground is concerned.

“Rigby has never gone to state, but this is our year,” Ritchie said. “We went from losing to losing by less to winning. Now we’re in our groove.”

As for Hillcrest, coach Bryan Johnston says his team is looking forward to wrapping up some unfinished business of its own.

“We know teams who make it to state are not only strong, but they are playing well right now,” Johnston said. “We didn’t get done what we planned last year (at state), but these kids are hungry for another shot.”

Hillcrest opens its state tournament Oct. 19 with an 11:30 a.m. match versus District 3’s No. 3 seed at Eagle High School.

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