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Pupil outdoing teacher

Sam Koleduk scored a school-record 45 goals for Gulf in the 1985-86 season.

Now, he coaches the player on the verge of breaking his longtime mark.

"It's weird, but kind of neat," Koleduk said of witnessing each of Novica Maric's 44 goals this season. "I told him, "I'm still the American goal scorer here. You've got the foreign record.' He just laughed."

"Sam was a great goal scorer," said Maric, who moved to New Port Richey with his family from Bosnia in 2000. "It's special, because I realize how good he was."

"Our goal-scoring touch was the same, but he's a lot more tactical than I was," said Koleduk, who also is Saint Leo's all-time goal scorer (77) and is in the Saint Leo and Sunshine State Conference halls of fame. "When he gets the ball at his feet, he's going to burn you."

Maric, a junior forward, already broke his brother Alex's school mark of 41 goals set in 2001-02. That season, Novica (no-WITS-ah) had 18 assists, but now he is the goal scorer and his twin brother, Bosho, is doing the setup work. Bosho (BO-jo) has a team-high 26 assists and seven goals.

"Me and Bosho, we've played together our whole life," Maric said. "Wherever I go, he knows. I'm going to break the record because of Bosho."

"There's been times Bosho could have scored, but he dishes it off to Novica," Koleduk said.

Following a 13-win season, Maric does not have the luxury of playing alongside last year's top scorers Drew Roberts and Jerred Bagwill. Both graduated, leaving Maric, who scored a county-leading 30 goals last season, as the Bucs' primary weapon.

Maric has aptly handled that burden, welcoming it in fact, and Gulf, which lists just two seniors on the roster, is 10-8-2 in a rebuilding season.

Maric has five four-goal games, and he scored a career-high five in a 5-1 win over Zephyrhills on Jan. 9. That capped a three-game stretch in which Maric scored 12 goals. He also had 12 goals in Gulf's first three games.

"I see the way he scores," Koleduk said. "He doesn't really dominate, but he'll get you three goals a game."

Maric's scoring output is attributed, in part, to his coach's encouragement to be creative.

"(Koleduk) lets us play the way we can," Maric said. "He won't scream at you if you make a mistake. That puts our confidence up so much."

"You really can't say a whole lot to him," Koleduk said. "You've got to let him be creative.

"In the past we've been a passing team, but we almost play kickball to get the ball up to him."

The goal-scoring record could fall today when the Bucs play at Nature Coast Tech. After that, Maric plans to shoot for the school career marks. Next up is his brother Alex, a Lenior-Rhyne junior who is second on the list with 78 goals behind Koleduk's 84.

Ultimately, Koleduk feels Maric can challenge the county's single-season and career marks held by Justin Geisler. The former Land O'Lakes standout, who led the Gators to two state final four appearances, scored 55 goals as a senior in 1999-2000 and 105 in his career.

Koleduk ranks Alex and Novica Maric (77 career goals) higher than Geisler.

"I'd say, in the past 10 years, they're the best scorers to come through this county," Koleduk said. "We're fighting for our lives and (Novica) still puts the ball in the goal."