Eoghan Cullen’s old office just became his new one.
An assistant at Forest from 2017-19, Cullen was Lake Weir’s head football coach the last two seasons. And on Thursday, Cullen was hired back by FHS to run its football program.
“I’m elated,” said Cullen, who interviewed with Forest on Jan. 14. “I didn’t see this coming. When the opportunity came open, I applied, and now, I am very excited about what is in front of us.”
Cullen takes over a program that finished 3-7 in 2021 but was in the playoff hunt until a loss at District 2-7A rival Buchholz in the second-to-last week of the regular season. Then-coach Robin Williams was let go shortly after FHS closed the year with a loss at Vanguard.
The Hurricanes went 2-14 in Cullen’s two seasons. He said he will most miss the relationships he established with players at LWHS. He believes the incoming class of freshmen at Lake Weir could be a special group.
“The toughest thing about leaving is leaving the kids there,” Cullen said. “I appreciate all they put into everything.”
The defensive line coach in the first year of his previous stint at FHS, the offensive line coach his second and defensive coordinator in his third, Cullen’s playing background came from arguably one of the state’s five best programs.
Cullen learned from coach Bill Castle in Lakeland
A center/defensive lineman for Lakeland High School from 1994-97, Cullen said he learned a great deal from coach Bill Castle, who has won six state championships, two USA Today national championships and was named the FHSAA’s coach of the century in 2007.
“He taught me so much about integrity, time management, being responsible for your activities and so much more,” Cullen said. “His teams always hustle and come to play.
“He taught me not just about football, but about life. I learned so much from Coach Castle.”
After that, Cullen spent more than 17 years in the Army, where he served domestically and overseas. He also earned a degree from Florida Southern in 2007. Cullen retired as an infantry Captain in 2015.
“Coach Castle and Lakeland football prepared me before the military, but the military made me a man and made me appreciate living in a free country,” Cullen said.
And now, he said he is ready for his next challenge, at Forest.
“We will work hard,” Cullen said. “We want to build a program the community can be proud of.”
This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: High school football: Eoghan Cullen returns to Forest as head coach