BILLINGS — The No. 10 jersey in soccer is usually worn by the team’s best offensive player. For the Billings Central Rams this year, that’s Sam Dull, leading Central with eight goals. But at the end of Friday’s quarterfinal, he had a very different job to do.
“There was a couple times last year where our keeper got a yellow card and I had to get in there," Dull said. "I’ve played a lot of keeper with my friends, and I feel pretty confident in there.”
After Central keeper Myles Ragar received a yellow card -- and thus had to come out of the game -- with five minutes to play, Central head coach Nolan Trafton didn't hesitate on his replacement.
“He’s an athlete. I have no problem putting Sam back there," Trafton said. "He’s very smart, very soccer smart. He knows the game so he knows how that position needs to be played.”
That’s the difference with this group: Everybody is finally on the same page.
“They just finally bought in, the seniors especially," Trafton said. "They’ve had four years now, two with me as the head coach, so they’ve finally started to click."
“This team has great chemistry," Dull added. "We all love each very much -- we’re a very close group, do things off the field as a team. It feels like home.”
Another of the six seniors is Camden Capser. You may recognize him from the Rams football team as their record-setting kicker. On the pitch, he’s Central’s get-out-of-jail-free card. When nothing else is working, just play it forward and see if Capser can get there first.
“What we’re trying to do is flip the field," Trafton said of the strategy. "Whether he puts it in the back of the net or not, we’re flipping the field to give ourselves the opportunity to play in the attacking half.”
“His ability to score is amazing," added Dull. "He’s done so much for our team in the last four years."
But it’s Dull who makes it all go, a true No. 10.
“He’s a great player. He’s a leader, mostly by example. I really like the way he plays the game," Trafton said. "I can always count on him to change things up if we need to.”
Trafton hopes Dull can change their recent playoff luck and reach the program's first state title game since 2012. Central goes on the road this week for a semifinal game in Columbia Falls Saturday at 11 a.m.