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Hunter Crane named new Oxford boys soccer coach

Soccer season just got a little busier for Hunter Crane.

The Oxford girls soccer coach will now oversee the entire soccer program after taking over as the boys head coach. The move was made this week after former boys coach Charles Sabatier stepped down to focus more on his teaching duties within the school district.

Taking over the entire program is daunting, but with Crane and Sabatier working so closely together, the transition will not be a difficult as it could be, Crane said.

“The good thing is, Charlie and I had a really good relationship and kind of tag-teamed a lot of the duties anyway,” Crane said. “So, I knew what he was doing and he knew what I was doing, so just kind taking over all those responsibilities is kind of the biggest change with that.”

Sabatier took over the boys program in 2016 and had immediate success, winning the Class 5A state championship in his first season. The Chargers made the playoffs all four seasons under Sabatier and went 5-0 to win the Region 2-6A title this past season.

Inheriting a program with stable and consistent success and returning most of the defensive starting lineup along with key players up top, Crane said he is not too concerned with growing pains come November.

“They came in and Coach Sabatier took over and obviously won a state championship his first season, and came in did a lot of really good things when we got to (Class) 6A,” Crane said. “(The team) made themselves one of the best teams in the state, specifically in the North. So, to be able to take that group over and try to build on that is going to be a tall task for sure.”

This is Crane’s first time overseeing an entire soccer program. He was hired as the girls coach ahead of the 2015 season and has since brought home two state championships. Crane said he spoke with several coaches and friends around the state to get advice on handling an entire program.

With a new normal for high school athletics beginning this month, with voluntary workouts and managing the COVID-19 threat, Crane said he has been able to have time with his current team as well as his new team, which has helped him get to know them.

Nothing is known about how sports will look once the new high school athletic season begins in August with volleyball and football, let alone how it will look come soccer season this winter. For now, Crane said he is just taking advantage of the time he has now to get as prepared as possible.

“Trying to follow all the regulations and stuff,” Crane said. “The good thing now is we’ve got them at separate times. So, being able to have the girls first and then have the boys show up next is giving us an advantage to work through some of the regulations that we’re working through right now. Obviously, when we get to August and we’re back in school full-bore and stuff like that, we’ll have them both at the same time and that’s really where our schedule will come into play with the strength coach and some of those things.”

Crane will have a new assistant coach on the boys side, with Charlie Winnick taking over that role. Former assistant coach Walt Freeman also stepped down with Sabatier.