New season, same goals for Lines, FTC

Connor Lines led Franklin Towne Charter in scoring last year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Last year, the goal was to have a season.

This year, the goal is to have another unforgettable one.

Franklin Towne Charter High School ended the 2018 soccer season with a Public League championship, but it started in less-than-ideal fashion when the Warriors found themselves without a head coach after training camp. Patrick Heaney stepped down, and Chris Logan took over. It ended up working out, but losing your manager a few days before the season starts isn’t a great way to start.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Connor Lines, a senior striker who led Franklin Towne in goals a season ago. “We had a good team, but we were pretty upset when we lost our coach. It worked out, though. (Logan) really did a great job, and we tried to help him with drills or things like that. It was great because we won.”

That was a good start for Logan, but Lines believes his final year can be more of the same.

The Public League is good once again, but so are the Warriors. The team returns all the offense they need in Lines, and Franklin Towne also returns John Simpson, the all-state goalie who played a massive role in helping the Warriors reign supreme in 2018.

Lines wasn’t shocked to see his teammate star in goal, and Simpson probably isn’t too surprised to see Lines fill the net. They pair are cousins and have been playing together for as long as they can remember.

“We’re really good friends, we hang out and we play soccer together, so we knew that we were going to have fun playing here,” said Lines, who lives in Morrell Park. “I actually knew I was coming here early because I was accepted right away because I had a sibling go here, so I got in.

“He didn’t know he was coming here until right before high school. When I found out he was coming here, because he had to get in on the lottery, I was really happy. I knew we were going to play together and I really wanted to win with him.”

Now that they have the one championship, the goal is to add another.

But Lines isn’t just looking to add a Public League championship.

Because of the success of the 2018 squad, Franklin Towne loaded up with a much more challenging schedule this year. The Warriors will once again play all the great teams in the Public League, but they’ve added great teams from the Catholic League and the suburbs. Playing that schedule means higher expectations come October and November.

“The Public League is great, but when you play tough teams from the Catholic League, you’re going to get better,” Lines said. “Last year we played Ryan, and I liked that because I knew a lot of the guys, but this year we have a really tough schedule. We don’t have Ryan, but we have Judge, Tennent, Neshaminy. I wish we played Ryan again, but those games will get us ready. When you win, better teams want to play you, so this year we’re getting to play better teams.”

That should get them ready to accomplish what Lines hopes to accomplish.

“I want to win the Public League again,” Lines said. “It won’t be easy, but I think we can do it. We have a lot of guys who won last year, and we’re back. And I want to maybe win a district championship and see if we can make a run in states.”

He also wants to get noticed by a college team and end up on a roster this time next year. A scholarship would be even better.

This summer, he played for a U-20 Coppa team at Philly Soccer. Being on that team gave him a taste of what it will be like to play against college players. He fared pretty well, and it motivated him to work that much harder.

“There were a lot of good players on the team, there were a few college players, some guys from Holy Family,” said Lines, who also worked as a busboy at Nick’s Roast Beef over the summer. “I think it made me a better player. They were very good. They are playing college, so I was younger, but I did OK. I think that will help me.

“I know I want to play in college. I’m not sure where I want to go, and I’m not sure what I want to study, but I know I want to go to college and I definitely want to play.”

He knows he already has the skill, but he’s also working on getting the attitude.

Last year, when Logan first joined the squad, Lines was one of the players who helped him adjust to the new position. This year, he wants to take another step in becoming a good leader. The better he does in the role, the better the Warriors will do.

“We definitely have to be good leaders,” Lines said of himself and Simpson. “We did it last year by showing (Logan) some drills and things like that, but this year we have to do it again. Our goal is to win another championship, and we’ll do anything we can to help everyone get where they need to be.”