Ben Futoran has taken over as the boys soccer coach at Indian Rocks Christian after former coach Rich Hayward decided to step down before the Golden Eagles' match against Tampa Prep on Dec. 8.
Hayward, who was beginning his seventh season, said he had been looking to hand the program's reins to Futoran and decided now was that time.
"There was some personal stuff that was going on that involved the soccer program, so I decided to step down," Hayward said. "I had decided I wanted to turn it over to Ben for a while but we could never work it out because Ben is the band director at Indian Rocks Christian and he's always been tied up with that through Thanksgiving."
Futoran was entering his fifth season as an assistant under Hayward at IRC. His head coaching experience includes 31/2 years as coach of a girls club team in Ohio. IRC is 2-1 since Futoran took over. The Golden Eagles defeated St. Petersburg Catholic and Admiral Farragut but lost 3-1 to defending Class 2A state champion Tampa Prep in Futoran's debut.
"It should have been 3-3," Futoran lamented. "We missed a penalty kick and a point-blank shot one-on-one with the goalie."
Leading the way for IRC (6-3) is freshman forward Cody Sitton, brother of ex-Golden Eagles standout Jonny Sitton. Cody Sitton, who has 12 goals, is the top scorer in the county.
"Jonny and Cody actually have very different styles," Futoran said. "Jonny is a workhorse who has incredible individual ball skills and will move the ball through two or three defenders to get it in the net. Cody is a true forward in that he's always in the right place at the right time. He reads the play so well, and he's an excellent finisher."
TROUBLE FOR TORNADOES: Clearwater's boys team was dealt a major blow when it learned starting defender Brennan McCarty was lost for the year with a torn ACL. McCarty was injured in a 3-0 Tornadoes win over Tarpon Springs on Nov. 19.
"He could not walk (after the injury)," Clearwater coach Anne Pekrul said. "It took him two or three days where he could walk without severe pain. He still limps now."
The Tornadoes are 1-6 in seven games since McCarty's absence. In the two games Clearwater played with him, the Tornadoes gave up a goal, holding county power Palm Harbor University to one score and shutting out Tarpon Springs.
"We've had to readjust defensively," Pekrul said. "They've been doing pretty good, but getting the chemistry together has been an issue."
McCarty, a stopper, is scheduled to have surgery Monday.
hURRICANE WATCH: Palm Harbor University's 8-0 victory over Alonso on Wednesday night solidified the Hurricanes' place in the championship game of the Hurricane Watch girls soccer tournament.
PHU, the host school and defending tournament champion, registered a 6-0 win over rival East Lake on Tuesday to qualify for the final.
The Hurricanes will face Countryside, which also won both of its tournament games in convincing fashion.
East Lake beat St. Petersburg to go 1-1 in the five-team tournament. St. Petersburg and Alonso finished 0-2. Friday's final kicks off at 6:30 p.m.