Schackow, Benjamin highlight All Area coaches

Gainesville's Basil Benjamin (left) and P.K. Yonge's Rebecca Shackow were selected as 2022-23 All Area Coaches of the Year.
Graphic and photos by C.J. Gish
Editor’s Note
This is the third of three stories unveiling the 2023 Bosshardt Realty All Area Soccer Teams. Click here to read about the Small School girls and boys teams and the Big School girls and boys teams. Go to our All Area soccer team landing page by clicking here.

Following a run to the region finals, P.K. Yonge girls soccer coach Rebecca Schackow and Gainesville boys soccer coach Basil Benjamin have been recognized as two of the top coaches in the area this season.

They join small school coach Max Aguirre (Williston boys) and big school coach Bryan Hantak (Buchholz girls) as our Bosshardt Realty Coaches of the Year.

“I am honored to receive this great recognition on behalf of my coaching staff, my team and our school, P.K. Yonge,” Schackow said. “We are a family. We strive for excellence and to be the best we can be in all areas of our lives. Together, we accept this kind recognition and feel encouraged to keep striving for great things to come.”

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P.K. Yonge won the Class 3A-District 4 title and advanced to the FHSAA playoffs before losing in double overtime, 3-2, to Bolles (Jacksonville) in the 3A-Region 1 Final.

“We are very proud of all that we have accomplished this season,” Schackow said. “We won the district championship for the fourth time in a row, which is no easy task. We made another Regional Final appearance in a very tough region and classification. And, in the history of our program, we played our toughest opponents to date, including the number one team in the country, Bartram Trail (St. Johns).”

Photo by C.J. Gish P.K. Yonge girls soccer coach Rebecca Shackow (center in vest) led the Blue Wave to the 3A-Region 1 Final in 2023.

The Blue Wave finished with a record of 14-5-1 against a difficult schedule.

“A hunger to compete was a driving force for our team all season long,” Schackow said. “We did not fear failure but wanted to experience challenges that would shape us. Though our team is very young, with only three upperclassmen, we were strong, skilled, and played great soccer. We met a ton of great players and coaches along the way and have the best fans anyone could ask for. It was an incredible season.”

Roger Laurent of Keystone Heights received special recognition. The Lady Indians (19-6) lost 6-1 to P.K. Yonge in the district championship but secured a spot in the state playoffs before falling to Bolles, 9-1, in the regional quarterfinals.

Aguirre led Williston to a district title and postseason berth.

The Red Devils (15-3-2) defeated Trinity Catholic (Ocala), 2-1, to win the 3A-District 4 title. Their season came to an end with a 5-2 loss to Bolles in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.

Douglas Beard, who led Bell to a district title and playoff appearance, was runner-up for small school COY.

The Bulldogs finished 12-3-1. They defeated Oak Hall, 2-1, to win the 2A-District 2 title and lost 2-0 to Harvest Community (Jacksonville) in a Class 2A-Region 1 Quarterfinal.

Meanwhile, Benjamin guided the Gainesville boys soccer team to within one game of a final four appearance.

“I owe this award to the competitiveness and strong character of our young men who came to work and tried to get better every day,” Benjamin said. “The true coach of the year though was our goalkeeper coach, Noah Van Riper, who was actually our starting keeper last year. This young man turned two inexperienced keepers into an amazing duo who only surrendered 14 goals in 18 games against some of the toughest teams in the state.”

The Hurricanes (16-1-1), who were nationally ranked heading into the postseason, had a season-ending 2-1 loss at home to Niceville in the 6A-Region 1 Final.

Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville boys soccer coach Basil Benjamin (right) led the Hurricanes to the 6A-Region 1 Final in 2023.

“I am proud of our players and our program,” Benjamin said. “Even with the unprecedented amount of injuries we had throughout the season, our players came ready to play at a high level each and every game. Chase Oyenarte and Colin Wycoff are two of the best defenders in the state, Ryleigh Peyer and Brendan Foley played hurt all season yet performed at a very high and productive level. Elijah Witt and Thomas Walker, who is actually a defender not a goalkeeper, stepped up provided the team with excellent goalkeeping in our dual keeper system. They each played a half every game bar sickness or injury.”

Greg Sawyer of Eastside finished second in the voting after leading the Rams (8-6-4) to the Class 4A-District 2 title and an FHSAA playoff appearance.

Eastside defeated top seed Suwannee (Live Oak), 2-0, in the district championship game but lost 3-0 at top seed Wakulla (Crawfordville) in the 4A-Region 1 Quarterfinals.

Hantak’s team also had to several obstacles to overcome but still managed to win a district title and earn a state playoff bid.

“This season was incredibly tough,” Hantak said. “We had an extremely hard schedule and dealt with a lot of injuries and illness, which is something that we haven’t had to deal with the last couple of years. However, I was so impressed with our soccer family here at Buchholz. They battled through it all and came together to take control of the season and made it a memorable one.”

Buchholz entered the 6A-District 4 tournament as the No. 2 seed. However, the Lady Bobcats (9-10) knocked off top seed Forest (Ocala), 3-2, in the district championship match.

Their season ended with a 7-0 loss at top seed Ponte Vedra in the 6A-Region 1 Quarterfinals.

“Winning back-to-back district titles was a goal that the team had set for themselves at the beginning of the year and they put in the work to make that happen,” Hantak said. “The best part of it all was watching the girls celebrate together after each of the playoff wins. We focus on making our program feel like family and that is what these young ladies have become and our seniors did a great job of making the family successful. I am so thankful for each and every one of the players here and can’t wait for next season.”

Special recognition also goes out to Chip Garner of 5A-District 2 runner-up Columbia (Lake City) and Ricardo Morales of Santa Fe (Alachua), which won the 4A-District 2 title.

Coach of the Year: Rebecca Schackow (P.K. Yonge)
Honorable mention: Roger Laurent, Keystone Heights

Coach of the Year: Max Aguirre (Williston)
Honorable mention: Douglas Beard, Bell.

Coach of the Year: Bryan Hantak (Buchholz)
Honorable mention:
Chip Garner, Columbia; Ricardo Morales, Santa Fe.

Coach of the Year: Basil Benjamin (Gainesville)
Honorable mention: Greg Sawyer, Eastside.

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