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East County Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 4 months ago

Lakewood Ranch High football coach leaving after one season

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He will become the head coach at North River High
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

After one year coaching the Lakewood Ranch High football program, Christopher Culton is taking on a different challenge. 

Culton will become the first football coach at North River High, scheduled to open in Parrish in the fall. Culton's move follows former Lakewood Ranch principal Craig Little and athletic director Shawn Trent's move to North River. The Mustangs went 0-10 in Culton's lone season. 

Culton said he would not have considered the move if Little and Trent were not there. The deciding factors, coworkers aside, were twofold for Culton. North River is within walking distance of Culton's house, he said,  as opposed to the 25-minute drive he would make to Lakewood Ranch. He is more able to be a part of the community there, he said. The other reason is the ability to build from scratch. 

"These opportunities come along so rarely," Culton said. "It is a 'right place, right time' thing. I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a blank canvas to work with." 

Culton, the longtime Naval Academy assistant coach, said he plans on molding his system to the players in it, not vice versa. The program will begin with either a freshman or junior varsity schedule in 2019-2020, due to the influx of young students at the school, Culton said. Culton anticipates having a full-fledged varsity program for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Culton said the decision to leave was a difficult one, and he saw progress in his team even though the record did not reflect it. He believes the program has a bright future thanks to many young players getting game experience. He also praised new Lakewood Ranch principal Dustin Dahlquist and said he believes the program will be placed in good hands. 

The Mustangs will now look to find Culton's replacement before spring football practice begins April 22. 

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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