Gone are Santiago Gaspar, Adrian Torres, Eduardo Lopez and Jesse Diaz — the driving forces behind Roosevelt High's march to the Central Section Division III boys soccer championship last season.
Still firmly entrenched, however, are the Rough Riders' hopes of adding a seventh title to the school's trophy case.
Roosevelt, which debuts at No. 8 in The Bee's section rankings, concluded the first week of North Yosemite League play tied for first after a 2-0 win Thursday over McLane.
The Rough Riders (8-3-2, 2-0) again appear to be one of the top teams in D-III despite the graduations of Gaspar (The Bee's Player of the Year), Torres (first-team All-Bee), Lopez (honorable mention) and Diaz (honorable mention).
"With this group, it's the mental approach that's their biggest battle," coach Joel Munoz said. "The skill is there. They are trying to figure out who the leaders are going to be. We lost a lot of leadership from last year."
Roosevelt returns two of 11 starters — Adrian Salas and Ruben Medina — from a team that went 21-2-3 while defeating Selma 3-2 for the section title and advancing to the CIF Southern California Regionals for the second time in school history.
And while the Rough Riders don't feature a once-a-decade scoring machine such as Gaspar, who had 35 goals last season, they do have players beginning to emerge such as Fernando Gutierrez.
The junior found an open spot in the McLane defense and knocked home a cross from Elijah Rodriguez in the 30th minute for the only goal Roosevelt would need.
"(Rodriguez) made a good move on the side," Gutierrez said. "I saw an open gap so I took it."
Frankie Martinez added to Roosevelt's lead in the second half when he hit what looked like a cross from outside the right post that the keeper came out to defend, only to have it glance off his body and trickle into the goal.
Munoz said a diversified scoring attack — rather than feeding a primary scorer — will be key to the Rough Riders' fortunes. Especially with a defense as strong as Roosevelt showed Thursday behind Luis Cervantes, Ricardo Martinez and Christian Ramos.
"It doesn't have to be one kid like (Gaspar)," Munoz said. "If they can find the open guy to shoot, the guy in the best position to score, that will work, too. We have lots of kids who can score."
With No. 7 Reedley, Fresno and Sunnyside all off to strong starts, the NYL should help toughen Roosevelt for another deep playoff run.
"I think we have the ability to win another championship," Gutierrez said. "We've got to pick it up and show what we're worth."
The Rough Riders resume NYL play Tuesday, when they will host Sunnyside at 5 p.m.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6103, firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickG_FB on Twitter.