As a defender, the closest Charlie Redline had gotten to a soccer goal crease the last three years was the one he plays with his back against.
Going into this season, Redline had scored no goals in his career. Imagine his surprise last week when he finished the regular season as Post Falls High’s leading scorer.
“I didn’t expect to have this kind of a year,” said Redline, who lives in Post Falls and attends Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy. He plays soccer at Post Falls because Charter doesn’t offer the sport.
“My first priority as a defender has always been trying to keep the ball out of the net,” Redline said. “Now I’m putting it in the net. After I scored my first goal it gave me confidence. I knew I could score. It just mushroomed from there.”
The Trojans’ scoring has been balanced. Redline’s seventh goal separated him from two teammates who had six each.
In coach Gabe Lawson’s eyes, Redline has had a transformation this season.
Redline is easily the Trojans’ most valuable player this fall. It’s something Lawson wouldn’t have predicted would happen prior to the season. Not that Redline didn’t have the potential. It’s just that Redline gave no indication he would have an MVP type season this year a season ago.
“He was good last year, but he’s turned into a dominant force this year,” Lawson said. “It’s been a stark difference from last year to this year.”
A four-year letterman and three-year starter, Redline has been the anchor at center back in the Trojans’ four-defender defense. His goals haven’t come from runs from the back but off of set situational kicks. He’s headed in most of his goals.
“He’s scored from set pieces – from corners or free kicks or sending a ball into an area,” Lawson said.
Redline can’t be missed on the field. He wears a padded head piece to guard against a concussion.
Two years ago, he suffered a concussion when he tried to head a ball away from his goal. As he was moving toward the ball, the Trojans’ goalie punched at the ball. He missed, clubbing Redline in the head.
“His fist met my head,” Redline said, smiling. “He hit me in the temple. It knocked me out.”
Redline missed the last two weeks of the season.
The padded head piece has made a difference.
“I used to get headaches after matches. I don’t get those anymore,” Redline said.
Lawson has greatly appreciated Redline’s offensive contributions. It’s a key reason why the Trojans captured their first league championship in school history.
“We’ve had issues scoring at times,” Lawson said. “I’d like to see our strikers score more often. At times Charlie has single-handedly kept us in matches.”
Defensively, Lawson calls Redline a rock.
“He’s played consistently great all year,” Lawson said. “He doesn’t have a bad game.”
Redline was a goalkeeper in club ball and switched to defender when he reached high school because the Trojans had a goalie his freshman year.
It’s a move he doesn’t regret.
“I like playing defender. I like the physical contact,” he said. “I like being the leader for my team back there.”
He wants to play soccer in college if given an opportunity. If not, he has an alternative plan. He would like to apply to be part of the University of Idaho’s resident firefighting program.
Redline is a two-sport athlete at Coeur d’Alene Charter. He will start for a second straight year on the basketball team and he’s qualified for state in the hurdles and relays in track the past two years.
He averaged four points in basketball last year as, naturally, the team’s defensive stopper.
“This year I’m going to try to score more points,” he said.
He has high goals for the basketball team. Charter will compete with Kamiah and Grangeville for a lone 2A state berth.
“They’ll both be tough,” Redline said. “We’re going to have a good team. We want to go to state.”
In track, Redline hopes to challenge for state titles in the hurdles.
At Post Falls, the soccer season has exceeded Redline’s expectations. The Trojans, who started fielding teams in 1996, secured their first state berth Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Lewiston.
“The team has grown throughout the year,” Redline said. “We’ve made a lot of memories this year. Hopefully we’re not done making memories.”