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April 26, 2009Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy is building quite the small school football power in Blue Ash. The school did not miss a beat in 2008 after former head coach Mike Gims left for the college coaching ranks, leaving behind a playoff unit from 2007 that had a wealth of talent returning. Athletic Director Cliff Hern went out and hired rising star Eric Taylor, who guided the team to the new heights during his first year. The future has immense upside at CHCA.
2008 RECORD: - 11-1, 7-0
COACHING: What's not to like about Eric Taylor, who is 18-4 in two years as a head coach (previously at Finneytown). The young coach gets it. He has surrounded himself with great mentors in his ascension up the coaching ladder. Instilling the fruits of their knowledge has already begun to pay big dividends, with their respect and the style of play of his team exhibits on the field.
Taylor's next challenge will be to maintain and build upon this success. With his preparedness and the way his teams reflect his demeanor that hurdle, should be an easy leap. The addition of former Indian Hill head coach, Kevin Siple, as offensive coordinator should make CHCA a nightmare for opposing defenses.
OFFENSE: The Eagles lit up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree with 54 touchdowns in 12 games in coach Taylor's spread offense. Insert Siple calling the plays as the coordinator, a cast of explosive skill players and the CHCA offense could be off the charts!
Quarterback Alec Swartz and wide receiver Andrew Perkins blossomed in the new system. Swartz threw for 2,403 yards and 25 touchdowns on his way to First-Team All-Southwest District honors as a junior in '08. He has 45 career passing touchdowns against just 14 interceptions.
Perkins scored 15 touchdowns as junior, 10 receiving and five rushing. He caught 35 balls for 892 yards for an average of 25.5 per catch. He ran it 50 times for another 353 yards on the ground. Those numbers earned him First-Team All-State honors last season.
Ian Smith, who caught 15 balls last season, will line up opposite of Perkins.
Running back Stephen Koch returns after a junior season that saw him lead the team with 379 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
The line will be the biggest question on offense. It will be up to veterans Chris McCollum and Jake Schomaker to lead the youngsters up front.
DEFENSE: The heart and sole of this defense lies within its linebacking crew. They are led by the outstanding Doyen Harris, who was a First-Team All-Southwest District performer as a junior. Ben Peters, Koch and Schomaker are solid tacklers along side him.
Getting out to all those big leads forced opponents to throw a bunch, but it did not work. The Eagles intercepted 23 passes last year. Senior defensive back Ben Lewis and classmates Harris, Peters, Schomaker, and Smith combined to pick off 13 off those.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Eagles have an advantage that very schools have in their kicking game. Senior Joe Reifenberg went 5-6 on field goals and 44-47 on extra points as he earned first team All-Southwest District honors as a junior. Punter John Lloyd has the foot to go Division I. He averaged 42.6 yards per punt on 39 boots. He also earned First-Team All-Southwest District honors as a junior in '08.
FINAL TAKE: This group of seniors has taken huge steps on their way to being one the top teams in Division V. Mistake-free line play on both sides of the ball will mean a ton to the success of this squad. The veterans at the skill positions are incredibly talented, but it will be their leadership that takes them to even bigger results than what the previous two campaigns have yielded. A deep playoff run seems likely.