• December 26, 2014

Knights, new coach thriving in potentially awkward situation

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Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:30 am

Harker Heights head boys soccer coach Ryan Flanigan said there was the potential to be the best — and there was also the potential for mutiny.

It’s not every day that a coach walks the same halls as the coach he replaced.

Flanigan, however, has been doing it since the day he arrived at Harker Heights for his first head coaching gig.

But there hasn’t been any mutiny.

The players, in fact, have embraced Flanigan, who came to Heights last offseason after five years as an assistant at Ellison.

“It’s just changing from one policy to the next,” Knight senior Layne Broiheir said.

The man Flanigan replaced is Heights head girls soccer coach Jared Cruddas.

After leading the Heights boys to the playoffs in three of the last four years, Cruddas accepted a position as the head boys soccer and head cross country coach at Brownwood.

Cruddas told the Killeen Daily Herald last year that he had his house packed up and ready to move to Brownwood before he had to turn down the offer due to family reasons.

But by that point, Heights had already installed Flanigan as his replacement. So Cruddas accepted the open girls head coaching position and now sees the same players he coached last year on a daily basis.

“We always say hi to him in the hallway,” Heights goalkeeper Luis Garcia Cosme said.

But Flanigan said everyone has handled the situation with grace, particularly Cruddas, who Flanigan said has made his job easier for him.

“He’s helped me out with just mundane head coaching things, just meals and buses and stuff like that,” Flanigan said. “I can ask, ‘hey, what about this?’ And he’s there. He gives me an honest answer, and he’s been really helpful to me.”

What has also made his job easier is the players’ willingness to learn from their new coach as they have completely bought in to his defense-first philosophy.

“These guys do everything I ask and they do it to their full potential,” Flanigan said. “And I can’t ask for anything more out of a group of guys.”

For the players it isn’t hard. Flanigan has all the credibility in the world as far as they’re concerned .

“You can tell because a lot of the players on the team are either first-years or they’re new positions and they’re really shaping into what we need,” Broiheir said. “They’re really stepping up.”

And after helping Ellison return to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years last season, including the Eagles’ first win against Heights in program history, Flanigan and his players are simply trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Because they know there is the potential for similar success.

“(The players at Ellison) did everything that we asked of them and it came to fulfillment,” Flanigan said. “And when that happens, it makes you feel good and you’re happy for the kids and the program and the community.

“And I want to do the same here.”

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