NORTH ANDOVER — Kyle Wood didn’t have the easiest job in the world. It’s never easy taking over for a legend.
The first-year North Andover boys soccer coach was taking over for Bill Tarbox, the winningest soccer coach (boys or girls) in area history
Fortunately, he had a leader like co-captain Jeff Warden.
“He was one of the players who always wanted to do one more sprint, one more lap,” said Wood, who guided the Scarlet Knights to a perfect regular season and a berth in the Division 2 North finals. “He was motivated. I can’t say enough about him. He made my job easy.”
Warden said, “We’ve had a really good relationship. I just tried to work my hardest to make the transition easier.”
The Moynihan Boys Scholar-Athlete of the Month for October works just as hard on his academics. He’s ranked 24th in a class of 335 and scored a superb 2,030 on his SATs. He’s a member of the National Honor Society and has passed AP tests in English, biology and European history.
“Obviously, my parents push me to do well,” said Warden, who is a co-captain in basketball and runs the 400 hurdles in spring track. “My siblings did well and I wanted to be like them.”
The oldest, John, graduated from Bentley magna cum laude. Sarah is a senior at Bates, where she was a two-year field hockey captain and a perennial member of the NESCAC Scholar-Athlete team. Jimmy is a sophomore who plays basketball at Norwich.
As an All-MVC defender and a top defender on the basketball team, hard work is Warden’s calling card.
“It’s really difficult,” the 5-11, 165-pounder said of being a top scholar-athlete. “But that’s what I want to do. It’s all worth it. Maybe I’ll get two hours of sleep. Maybe I can’t go out on a Saturday due to a basketball tourney. I just want to do it and I’ve always wanted to. It’s just natural to me.”
Although defense is his game, ironically he scored what will go down as one of the most memorable goals in the history of the proud Scarlet Knight program.
It was in the North semis a few weeks back against once-beaten Concord-Carlisle. His goal, the first of his varsity career, was a 40-yard blast with 15 minutes left and it held up for a 1-0 win.
“I was back on defense,” explained Warden, who has been class vice president all four years at North Andover. “Concord-Carlisle tried to clear the ball and it rolled toward me. I sprinted toward it, hit it as hard as I could. I looked up and it was in the back of the net. I couldn’t believe it. I’m still at a loss for words.”
Warden hopes to play college soccer. He’s looking at Wesleyan, Babson, Brandeis and UMass.
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.