Hoosac Valley’s Shaun Knapp, left, and Sean Ryan-Kut pass the ball during a drill in practice, with boys soccer coach Camilo Bermudez in the
Hoosac Valley’s Shaun Knapp, left, and Sean Ryan-Kut pass the ball during a drill in practice, with boys soccer coach Camilo Bermudez in the background. (Sam Monroe / New England Newspapers)

CHESHIRE -- Hoosac Valley second-year boys soccer coach Camilo Bermudez has a passion for teaching the game.

This is evident by the way Bermudez interacts with his players, while providing guidance and motivation. He not only explains the drills to his team but participates in them as well, giving an example for his players to follow. Bermudez said this is the most effective way to teach the game.

"I get involved in a lot of the drills they do. It helps and it keeps them on their toes," Bermudez said. "If you're in there playing with them, they have to perform 110 percent. And it's a different way than just sitting in there and telling them. You're actually in there with them. I think it humanizes me in a way where they feel comfortable playing around me."

Comfort and trust are two things that any new coach must establish with his team. It took some time for the Hurricanes to warm up to Bermudez's new, fresh style, but now, the players are enjoying it.

"Last year I came in as a new coach, so the kids were a little hesitant in buying into my ideas. They were so used to one way," Bermudez said. "This year they know what they're getting into. So they all know the drills, they all know what they're expected to do, where they need to be -- so you can tell they're ready to go."

His high-energy style has already led to improvement on the pitch as the Hurricanes rebounded from a two-win season two years ago, to post nine wins last season and earn a berth in the Western Massachusetts playoffs.

The team returns eight players from last year's team and added two players from the cross country team and one from the football team.

As the team becomes more familiar with Bermudez's system, it looks to take the next step. Bermudez said he wants his team to be more aggressive early in games instead of coming out on their heels.

"I think this year we don't want to go into too many games defensively. We did that last year just because we were kind of nervous, but we won some pretty big games last year," Bermudez said. "We want to go into games not playing so much defense, taking it to them and potentially winning some games early."

The players in charge of leading the Hurricane attack will be senior captains Shaun Knapp and Sean Ryan-Kut. The players bring a combined 18 goals back to this year's squad and hope to build on that number this season.

The long-time best friends have a natural chemistry when they're on the pitch together. The pair works well together and they enjoy getting their teammates involved as well.

"Our chemistry has always been solid, we've always worked very well together," Knapp said. "Me and Kut are always looking to hit the outsides -- outsides-in. We try to get everyone involved as much as we can, we do our fair share possessing, but we try to get everyone involved."

Despite the team's nine-game turnaround, the Hurricanes feel like they're still not getting the respect they deserve around the county.

"I think we're going to surprise some teams because some teams don't think we're as good as we are," Ryan-Kut said. "Some teams look down on us because of our two-win season. But we're going to working hard and try to make the Western Mass. playoffs again."

Bermudez added that the opinion of his team might be changing.

"Last year we went into every game, and every team was like ‘It's just Hoosac.' I think this year will be the same idea. Teams will be worried about us but they'll still want to beat us badly. I think we've started to build the reputation that we're actually a solid team now," Bermudez said.

As the team looks to repeat as South champions and make a deeper run in the Western Mass. playoffs, the players credit their coach with making positive changes in their lives on and off the pitch.

"I feel like he's more than just a coach to us. He helps us out a lot and he's always looking out for us. I like to look at him as more of a family member than just a coach," Ryan-Kut said.