Experienced coaches take over at Citrus
By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
One of the county's most successful programs will have two new faces on the sideline this winter.
Ethan Eldridge will take over at Citrus, with Tom Taylor as his assistant.
Eldridge, 29, is replacing Brady Bogart, who resigned in August. Bogart accumulated a 115-23-11 record and six Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships in six seasons.
Activities director Vicki Overman said she hopes to have a junior varsity coach in place Monday.
"We're really excited to get both of them, especially as late into the school year as it is," said Overman, who looked at five to six candidates. "We have all the confidence in the new coaches we've got coming in here -- young guys who work hard, and that's what we want."
Eldridge said he probably will have a team meeting and sign-ups near the end of the week. The Hurricanes' first game is Nov. 18 at Springstead.
Eldridge is in his fifth year at Inverness Middle School, where he teaches eighth-grade language arts and is an assistant football coach.
Growing up in New York, Eldridge played on community and school-sponsored soccer teams from first-ninth grade before switching to football in high school. He coached three years of junior varsity lacrosse in New York before moving to Inverness.
In the spring, Eldridge assisted Tom Darby with the Citrus boys and girls track teams. Eldridge said he will know many of his new players from IMS and the Hurricanes track program.
Darby, a former head coach and current assistant for the Citrus boys soccer squad, said he expects Eldridge to do well.
"He's a hard worker and has got a little experience coaching and has participated in soccer," Darby said. "Plus, he's young and energetic."
Eldridge said:"I want our kids to learn a lot and have fun, and to understand the responsibilities of being a student-athlete. If we win, that's great, but it's not No. 1 on my priority list."
Taylor, 30, brings an extensive background to the program.
A three-year prep letter-winner, Taylor earned a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. The forward/midfielder sustained a knee injury that curtailed his career.
After graduating from Kentucky in 1995, Taylor coached the Fort Walton Beach girls varsity for two seasons. Since moving to Citrus County, he has been involved with the West Citrus Soccer League.
A fifth-grade teacher at Lecanto Primary School, Taylor is pursuing a master's degree in educational leadership at the University of South Florida.
He grew up in soccer-crazed Europe and said he coaches for the love of the game.
"As I grew up, I lived, breathed and ate soccer," Taylor said. "Soccer revolves around the team aspect, and I will try to promote that to the players."
The 'Canes went 18-4-1 last season and finished as Class 2A, District 7 runners-up.
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