Mark Petkewich had no intentions of taking over as head coach for Southeast Bulloch’s boys soccer program. However, with the absence of a head coach and the season about to begin, Petkewich decided to step out of his element and fill a void at SEB that was desperately needed.
Petkewich said if a head coach was not named before the start of the year, the soccer program would be in jeopardy of losing its season.
With just one game left in the regular season, it appears Petkewich's first year at the helm was a success. He helped lead SEB boys soccer to a 9-5 overall record and a 7-3 region record.
“We’ve got such great players who have invested so much in sports. I just knew they had a passion for it and it would be a shame if they didn’t get to play,” said Petkewich as he watched his team warm up for a match against Statesboro High School Thursday night. “It was basically up until the very last minute that I made the decision because no one else did.
“It was great excitement for the players when they found out I was going to be the head coach.”
Petkewich said he coached many of the boys on the team in middle school, but this is his first year coaching high school players.
The former SEB boys middle school coach said he has enjoyed watching his middle school players blossom into high school athletes. This season, the Yellow Jackets have gone on a five-game win streak and have scored 10 goals in back-to-back games against Johnson and Beach High School.
“It seems like they have a much greater focus on the game. Their skills have improved greatly,” Petkewich said. “It speaks to the talent of our middle school teams and the talent of those coaches.”
Parents and Southeast Bulloch community members have thanked Petkewich for keeping the Yellow Jackets season alive.
“I get it a lot from parents, not so much the players, but I know they appreciate it. It’s definitely reassuring that a made the right decision,” Petkewich said.
Petkewich’s future with the Southeast Bulloch boys soccer program is still up in the air. The father of three said he was uncertain if he would come back for another season. Despite the time away from home, Petkewich said he appreciates every “thank you” he hears.
“It makes some of the time away from home easier and we’ve had an exciting season. This is great,” Petkewich said.
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.