Halfway through his Nixa career, Caeden Cloud is far from halfway toward Joey Clem’s school record of 89 career goals.
“I don't know if I'll get there,” the junior forward said of Clem’s lofty standard.
To get to 89, Cloud would also likely have to challenge Clem’s single-season school record of 40 goals, set his senior season in 2015.
“That's a ton of goals,” coach Evan Palmer said, while recalling Clem’s career.
Cloud has 20 career goals entering the Eagles’ season-opener tonight at Kickapoo against Columbia Hickman. He had five goals as a freshman and a team-high 15 as a sophomore on his way to an All-COC First-Team selection.
As unattainable as Clem’s records might seem, Palmer isn’t ruling out the possibility of Cloud making a run at those marks, given his abilities and the new role he’ll find himself in.
“Joey was a pure finisher and Caeden has shown he has that in him,” Palmer said. “He definitely could push and get toward the top (of the records board).”
Cloud’s scoring figures to be dramatically on the rise, as Nixa transitions from a senior-dominated team last season to a far less experienced outfit this time around.
Of the Eagles’ 61 goals last season, 38 were posted by seniors. In addition to Cloud, returning players who had goals last season include forward Lucas Green, who had seven, and defender Jacob McClain, who had one.
“We lost a bunch of scoring, so we’ll need (Cloud) to get more goals this year,” Palmer said. “He’s one of the guys we need to step up.”
Cloud is eager to be more assertive with the ball as the leader of Nixa’s offense,
“We have guys who need to take initiative and step up to be leaders. I want to be one of them,” he said. “I’m excited for it.”
That said, he won’t strictly be looking for his own shot. He’s already shown his ability to pass, having dished out four assists both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“I'm not too focused on my individual stats,” he said. “More importantly, it's about doing whatever it takes to win. If that means, I don't have any goals or assists and that's what it takes or if I have to have a few goals and get a couple assists, that's what I'll try to do. I want to make sure I'm doing whatever it takes to win.”
Cloud realizes opposing scouting reports are going to zero in on him, particularly at this juncture of the season.
“I would assume so,” Cloud said of drawing extra defensive attention. “When they do that, it will leave other guys open. If another guy has a better chance to score, then I want to give it up.
“At the end of the day, all that matters in the team's success,” he added. “If that means I've got to give someone else the ball and they will score, that's what I will do.”