Outlook: Following the departure of coach Bobby Holden, who left to focus more energy into serving as coaching director of USF Real Indiana Travel Soccer Club, and the departure of 10 senior starters, the New Palestine boys soccer team might have seemed in dire straits.
However, Jeff Burger has stepped into the position following 20-plus years of coaching experience in Wisconsin and Kansas.
When asked about how the soccer scene compares to his previous stops, Burger said, “The individual talent is very similar, but I’ve really been pushing the pace of play in practice to get it to where I’ve grown accustom to.”
“We’re starting from scratch, which puts us behind schedule,” Burger said. “It’s really difficult for kids when they have a new coach, but they’ve all really stepped up and have been willing to relearn.”
The lone returning starter, senior Ryan Miller, is at forward. The challenge will become filling out the team behind him.
Burger has named senior goalkeeper Eric Shelby, senior Nick Martin and junior Kyle Doss as captains to assist in the transition.
“I like having our leaders be players that play in the center of the field so they can more easily address the officials,” Burger said.
Burger brings his Flex formation to this year’s Dragons, which will adapt the formation and style of play to better attack what other teams are showing.
“It changes minute to minute based on what we see on the field,” Burger said. “It’s been a struggle for our guys to learn, but I think it will really benefit us once its learned.”
Being new to the area, Burger is excited to learn the traditions of the area. “It doesn’t take long to figure out who your rivals are … I’m looking forward to playing (Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon) and get the rivalry going.”
Kickoff: New Palestine started the season yesterday at home against Guerin Catholic, which won back-to-back Class A state titles last year.