MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

March 3, 2014

Hilldale boys coach putting accent on program

David Saunders’ first love is soccer, or the term he’s more familiar with – football.

The native of Exeter, England is in his first year teaching Algebra I and coaching the boys soccer team at Hilldale High School. How he got to Muskogee from London is one of love and devotion.

“I’m married to a lady from Tulsa,” he said. “We got married and lived in England for nine years. We came over here in August and bought a house in Muskogee.”

The new coach brings a lifetime of experience as both a player and a coach, or manager as it is referred to in his homeland.

“Growing up with a football at my feet in England, I’ve always played soccer at high school, college, university and then I was a manager. I’m a high school teacher so I’ve always managed soccer teams over there. Then I ran a Christian adult soccer team for 10 years in Exeter.”

Saunders takes over a squad that is peppered with experience and youth, both up front and in the back.

“My captain, Christian Arnold, is a senior and plays back and he’s a very strong player,” Saunders said. “He’s my sweeper and then I’ve got a couple of good lads at midfield in sophomore Bailey James, who plays club ball in Tulsa, and junior Brian Martinez.

“One player to watch out for is Hunter Woods who’s very quick. He’s very good at listening and I think has learned quite a lot from me.”

One person that Saunders is very grateful to helping him adjust to his new home is former Hilldale boys coach and current girls coach Brent Breckon.

“He’s been fantastic,” Saunders said. “He’s shown me the ropes. He built a really strong program for two years and now it’s allowed him to work with the girls team. Now I can offer my experience and different formations from the UK.”

The team has shown Saunders they’re as excited to play for him and expand their knowledge of the intricacies of the game.

“They’re all listening and willing to learn,” he said. “And they’re listening hard because they’re trying to understand my accent. Based on what I’ve seen, I’ve got a very hard working squad who will be very competitive.”

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