JACKSON TWP —Tyler Prex recalls sticking around after his own club soccer practices to take part in his older brother’s team’s sessions. He’d frequently tag along to the older boys’ organized runs, as well.
The intuition that came about has undoubtedly benefited Prex on the prep level.
“Just playing up with them helped me play quicker and see the field better,” said Prex, a junior Seneca Valley midfielder named as the 2023 Butler County Boys Soccer Player of the Year, as voted on by the Butler Eagle sports staff.
Butler’s Cody Lubinsky and Slippery Rock’s Trent Davey were also considered for the award.
“We had a very strong section this year and a lot of good players,” Raiders coach George Williams said. “For Tyler to be able to earn that kind of recognition as a junior, I’m very proud. Obviously, he’s a very talented player. He’s got a lot of great abilities.
“His soccer intelligence; his ability to read the game, anticipate, evaluate, see what’s going on, and be able to kind of stay half a step ahead ... is tremendous.”
Prex finished the campaign with 12 goals and 17 assists, the second statistic being the most of any Raider.
“He’s one of those (guys) that can see a run for one of our other players to make before the other runner even knows that it’s there, then lays the ball out ahead of them in order to run onto,” Williams said. “He had a number of those. He assisted a lot of really big goals this year.”
As long as the ball is brushing the back of the net, Prex doesn’t care who puts it there, an unselfish reason as to why his squad came out on top in Section 1-4A.
“A goal is a goal,” Prex said. “It doesn’t really matter however many assists or goals you have. It all equals the same for the team.”
Last go-round, as a sophomore, Prex periodically saw the pitch on the Seneca Valley team that brought home a PIAA Class 4A title. Working beside guys such as Beaux Lizewski, Max Marcotte, and Connor Oros in the uber-competitive state tournament, it would’ve been difficult not to take away impactful lessons.
“He definitely took away from that just the level of competition and competitive nature of that group,” Williams said. “Just the daily expectation of performing that group had last year was something that he brought into this year.”
Still, the part that was asked of Prex was an unfamiliar one.
“I’d really never been a role player on a team like I was last year,” Prex said. “This year, we needed people to step up into new roles because of all the guys we lost. ... I felt like I was more free. Last year, I was not as confident in myself. This year, it just felt good to just play and help the team out however I wanted.”
That included moving around in a manner that his coaches trusted.
“At times, he would roam, but we allowed it,” Williams said. “Because, at times, he would roam into an area that would make him even more dangerous.”
Prex was listed as a Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-WPIAL honoree and Class 4A’s co-Player of the Year. He was included, as well, on the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-State list.
“I’m very grateful, because all the hard work I’ve put in is finally coming together,” Prex said. “I’m very grateful I have one more year to do, hopefully, what we tried to accomplish this year.”