Sometimes before Tyler Mann plays, the King Philip Regional senior will go through a pregame routine of sorts.
While on the bus or throughout the school day, he’ll search for highlight videos of FC Barcelona star Andres Iniesta , hoping to imitate the Spaniard.
“He’s my favorite player and his vision of the field is unbelievable,” Mann said. “The passing lanes he sees and the way he dribbles, it just sometimes blows my mind.”
Mann is a long ways off from entering Iniesta’s stratosphere, but that’s the sort of passion and energy he’s offering the Warriors this fall.
Last fall, he was named MVP of the Hockomock League and received All-State and All-New England honors, guiding King Philip to the semifinals of the MIAA Division 1 South tourney.
Those successes, however, are in the past now, emphasized KP coach Nick Gale.
“Soccer is a huge part of his life, and for a lot of high school players they settle on the end result of having a good season or being an All-Star,” Gale said. “He’s setting his visions much higher, and it takes a higher caliber to not just be a decent player. He’s shooting for much more that.”
A left-footed creator who is the offensive linchpin for King Philip, Mann is determined to play collegiately at the Division 1 level. UMass Lowell is high on his list.
In that effort, he has been helped immensely by playing for the New England Futbol Club, where he’s coached by Ed Kelly, the men’s coach at Boston College. But before committing anywhere, Mann hopes to serve proudly as one of three captains for the Warriors.
“It’s kind of crazy looking back to when I was a freshman and I touched the ball probably five times a game,” Mann said. “Now I’m the main guy and we’re all grown up now, so I understand what those younger kids are feeling.”
Growing into a leader will be key for Mann this fall, Gale said, largely because of a conversation the two shared back in 2015, his sophomore year.
Gale impressed upon Mann that he’s a special talent – he recalls a “wow effect” from watching him play on the wing his freshman year – and that his next step would be blossoming into King Philip’s “go-to” player.
“I told him he’s going to have to be more than just a role player and instead be the reason for our success,” Gale said. “He grew up his sophomore year in terms of taking on that role, and now we’re starting to see it even more.”
Such an impact also stood out to Larsen Keys , a senior center back and co-captain for the Warriors. Keys has played with Mann since they were “5 or 6 years old,” and said there are plenty of occasions in which Mann will dribble away from three or four players, only to pick out a runner who no one else spotted.
One such instance came during their junior year against Oliver Ames. Keys made a lung-busting run up field and Mann dropped a dime into his stride.
“It was one of the best passes I’ve seen over the top,” Keys said. “I just remember it so clearly because it was an inch-perfect ball.”
Replicating those moments, Mann said, might be hard to come by this season.
In King Philip’s 1-0 win over Milford on Sept. 7, the Hawks entirely changed their tactical approach, marking Mann.
It’s the type of treatment Mann expects from here on out — his 12 goals and five assists last season demand special attention from every opponennt.
But Mann’s plan is to take it all in stride, confident that King Philip can win the Hockomock and advance far in the MIAA Tournament.
After then, he hopes his college soccer commitment will come.
“I’m not the player I was last year,” Mann said.
“I’ve developed and added so much to my game. The achievements from the past are there, but now I shoot for better.
■ In Middleboro (3-0), the 16th-ranked Sachems have gotten off to a hot start, thanks largely to the junior tandem of Cam Labree and Nick Ramos . In an 8-5 win over North Quincy on Friday, Ramos netted five goals and Labree added a hat three. Middleboro is ranked.
■ Belmont is earning a great deal of praise early on. It is very tough to earn a point against the Marauders, who opened the season with shutouts over Burlington (3-0) and Wilmington (2-0). Junior keeper Nate Esplin denied a penalty kick in the opener against Burlington.
Players to Watch
Ryan Cuozzo, BC High: The senior captain netted a hat trick in a 4-1 season-opening win against Cheverus (Maine).
Brian Brennan, St. John’s Prep: The senior midfielder started the season with a hat trick, including an impressive corner kick that he bent in during the early stages of Prep’s 5-3 victory over Masconomet.
James McCully, Nauset: After netting 38 goals last season — one shy of his father’s single-season school record — the senior has only needed a pair of games to put away five for the Warriors (2-0).
Cam Pattison, Cohasset: While he may not be the player finishing all the scoring opportunities, he can certainly create them. The senior for the Skippers (2-0) started his season with a pair of goals and a trio of assists.
Julian Ospina, Mystic Valley: The Eagles outscored their opponents, 18-2, in Week 1 — with the senior netting a hat trick in both games.
Teams to Watch
Dover-Sherborn (15-1-4, final 2016 record): The Raiders are off to a 2-0 start, winning both games by 3-0 margins.
Newton North (5-9-4): After an opening match draw against Weymouth, the Tigers proceeded to drop four goals on Walpole while holding the Rebels scoreless.
Medford (10-6-3): The Mustangs dropped six goals on Methuen, four from promising sophomore Aaron Vaz after a draw in their opener against Malden.
Brookline (6-4-8): The Warriors have found the back of the net five times, while conceding just one goal (a tie against Braintree).
O’Bryant (6-9-3): The Tigers put together a resilient 3-2 win over Saugus on Friday. Trailing, 2-1, with four minutes remaining, O’Bryant tied the match on a tally from Ethan Somers. Owen Locke then scored the winner in the waning seconds.
Games to Watch
Wednesday, Wayland at Waltham (4 p.m.) — Wayland is a proven success in recent seasons, and the Hawks are off to a hot start after a tough 2016 campaign. The matchup should provide a good test for Waltham.
Wednesday, Middleboro at Norwell (4 p.m.) — The Sachems have dominated opponents early on while the Clippers are a team capable of busting open the scoring. Wednesday should provide a good indication as to what Middleboro is capable of.
Wednesday, Danvers at Somerville (6 p.m.) — Two of the state’s perennial best squads have a chance to bang heads early in the season. The host is No. 3 in the Globe’s Top 20, while the Falcons are No. 11.
Thursday, Winchester at Lexington (3:45) — The Middlesex League is one of the toughest in the state, and these are two of the best teams. Thursday will mark an important league opener for both.
Friday, Newton North at Braintree (3:45) — The Tigers have shown they can put the ball in the back of the net, while the Wamps have found the net eight times in three games with a stingy defense as well.Correspondent Logan Mullen also contributed to this story. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.