By Kyle LoJacono
Freedom High must find a replacement for the only boys soccer coach in the school’s history.
Dennis Derflinger resigned the post two weeks ago because he is entering Hillsborough County’s assistant principals program, which starts in October. The time constraints make coaching the program impossible, especially because the training begins around the same time as the soccer season.
“Coaching at Freedom has been great,” Derflinger said. “The program has come a long way in the short 10 years. The first year we won only one game. The following year we won the school’s first district title.”
Derflinger started coaching at Plant, where he led the program for two years before moving to Freedom when it opened in 2002. The Patriots went 111-64-19 during his tenure with seven winning seasons, seven playoff appearances and four district championships.
Freedom also reached the Class 5A state championship game in 2009, falling 2-1 to Palm Harbor University 2-1.
“I have a lot of great memories from the last 10 years, but I think the most memorable moment was the state final,” Derflinger said. “Watching the guys compete at a very high level and to work hard the entire game … I was very proud of the way the guys handled themselves after the defeat. We were all extremely disappointed, but they all displayed great sportsmanship at the end of the game.”
The Patriots went 12-6-1 last year and made the postseason as a district runner-up before falling to Lakeland George Jenkins in the regional quarterfinals. Freedom was later given credit for winning the playoff game because Jenkins used an ineligible player.
Derflinger plans to continue coaching the Patriots flag football team, which he started when Hillsborough sanctioned the sport in 2007.
Freedom principal David Sheppard said they will advertise the boys soccer opening “shortly.” He added they are currently interviewing people to fill the vacant baseball and wrestling coaching positions, which he said should be filled in the next two weeks.
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