Your first image is pretty darned nice, if it was possible to shoot from a vantage point to the furthest corner of the pit, that might have made of a nice image because his face would have been more visible. I did notice that he was backlit, so the location that I was recommending may not have been possible because the backlighting may have been worse.
The second image is nice, but boy would it have been nice to see his face a bit more or to have the ball in the frame. Keep shooting, the adage that practice makes perfect is all true.
Thanx for the tech fix Frank, now I'll know for my next submission. As to your suggestion for the first frame, repostioning would have shown a lot more background pollution but I see what you mean. I give it a shot next time out.
They are both very nice shots. I am not one to offer suggestions as I am pretty new to this as well, but one of the things I have found that I like with Capture NX is the ability to brighten only a portion of a player (the face normally). Sometimes I may overdo it, but I reprocessed my football pictures and used it to "peek" under the helmet. It would probably work pretty easily on your first fellows face without being too obvious.