Head coach Eric Taylor made a big splash in his first season at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
after moving over from Finneytown. The Eagles posted an undefeated
regular season and also captured a playoff victory. They want more...
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (11-1)
* Players To Watch – QB Alec Swartz (6-1, 198, Sr.; 2,500 yards passing), WR Andrew Perkins (5-11, 165, Sr.; 1st team All-Ohio, 900 yards receiving, over 25 YPC, 400 yards rushing), LB/FB Doyen Harris (6-1, 205, Sr.), P John Lloyd (6-3, 230, Sr.; 42.6 average), K Joe Riefenberg (6-1, 180, Sr.) * Outlook – It was a successful season for Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in 2008, one that carried special significance for head coach Eric Taylor.
"Actually, last year was my first year at CHCA, so I didn't really know what to expect to be honest with you," Taylor said. "I was very pleased with our performance. Of course, I'm a little disappointed about how it ended and when it ended, but during the regular season, we had some nice wins. In the regular season I believe we beat four playoff teams possibly, and of course in the first round of the playoffs we picked up a win there. So we beat some quality teams along the way, and I thought our kids really played well. The biggest thing I think our kids do is this last year, they did a good job of just playing good team ball and really being eleven strong and working together for the benefit of their teammates. We were pleased."
Taylor made the move from Finneytown to CHCA late in the spring of 2008 and did not have much time to work with in putting together a staff. But things came together and the team didn't miss a beat.
"I'd say the biggest challenge was it was a late hire," Taylor said. "I met the team May 1st of last spring, so really it was a pretty late hire, so I had to find a staff and hit the ground running. I was pretty fortunate that several guys that were on the staff before wanted to come back, and I was really able to put together what I thought was a phenomenal staff in a very short time.
"Sometimes it's hard to put a good staff together regardless, and doing it at the last minute's really a challenge. I felt very lucky and surprised with that."
Taylor credits the former coach at CHCA with leaving a full cupboard to work with.
"The program was left in great shape," Taylor said. "Mike Gims was the previous head coach, and he left CHCA to take the head job at Trinity International University, which is in Chicago. He ran a great program, so it was pretty easy to step in. The kids were already going in the right direction; I just had to quickly build relationships with them and help guide them in that direction."
That direction should continue to move forward this year. The Eagles return at least six starters on offense and five on defense, led by some talented veterans such as All-Ohio receiver Andrew Perkins and Division I college punting prospect John Lloyd.
"We have a good core," Taylor said. "I think we have four of five all-state players back, and we have I believe five of seven all-district players. So we have a very good core and some very important roles returning, but it's all going to come down to how we do up front. Last year, we had some real good experience in our offensive line play and our defensive line play, and we've lost some of those guys, so it just depends on how our younger guys develop. We have a lot of skill guys back -- we have an all-state quarterback back, we have an all-state receiver back, fullbacks, running backs, and things like that. So we have a lot of skill back, but it's going to come down to, can you control the line of scrimmage or not?"
In addition to developing the line play, Taylor hopes the team can learn from last year's playoff experience what it takes to make deep runs into the postseason.
"To play at that highest level, to really make a run at the state championship, you need to be solid and sound in all facets of the game," Taylor said. "You need to have a great line, you need to have a good running attack and a good passing attack. There were a lot of things that we did good but some things that we didn't necessarily do great. West Jefferson did a fantastic job of slowing our guys down, capitalizing on some things, and we didn't make the plays that our kids were used to making all year long. For whatever reason that is -- lack of experience playing in that big playoff game, things like that -- you learn from it.
"The core of our guys last year, a big chunk of our guys were juniors. We have a very good junior class that's coming back to be seniors, and we've got some key positions that I really think learned from that. We had a big win the first week of the playoffs, a huge win against East Clinton where I think it was 43-0 at halftime, and our guys were feeling unstoppable at that point. The very following week, we're in a dogfight and find ourselves behind on the scoreboard. Anything can happen, and you really need to be ready to play every single week."
The Eagles will be faced with some traditional foes from the Cincinnati area on this year's schedule, along with the addition of a much bigger school.
"I think our schedule is even more difficult this year," Taylor said.. We open up with the same three teams. We open up with Wyoming, and Wyoming is traditionally one of the best programs in the area. Coach (Bernie) Barre does such a great job over there, and they're returning a whole bunch.
"Then we get into Mariemont and Maderia. With Maderia, the score with the exception of last year has (close) the past five years or so with that group. Even the year we went to the state finals it was a really close game. And Mariemont played us really tough last year, so right out of the gates we're going to be tested. We have the same league play with North College Hill, who was in the playoffs last year, Lockland was in the playoffs last year, and some other guys in the league. Then we picked up a 6A school - Division I in our terms - down in Louisville, Kentucky (North Harding). That's going to be a big test for us, if we can line up across from a big school."
But the Eagles might have an ace in the hole to help them be even better this year -- the addition of a longtime area coach to the staff.
"We made an unbelievable addition to our staff, a gentleman named Kevin Siple," Taylor said. "He was the head coach at Indian Hill for 16 years, and he's actually going to be our offensive coordinator next year. That was a big step in the right direction for our program.
"Kevin and and I have been friends for a long time. I was offensive coordinator last year, and most of what I do, I stole from Kevin anyway. The truth is there really won't be that many differences with the actual style of the offense. There'll just be a much smarter guy calling it. I'm going to go back over to the defensive side of the ball, which has always been my comfort level."
8/28 @ WYOMING (CINCINNATI) 9/4 MADEIRA (CINCINNATI) 9/11 @ MARIEMONT (CINCINNATI) 9/18 NEW MIAMI (HAMILTON) 9/25 @ NORTH COLLEGE HILL (CINCINNATI) 10/2 SUMMIT COUNTRY DAY (CINCINNATI) 10/9 @ LOCKLAND (LOCKLAND) 10/16 North Hardin (Kentucky) (Radcliff) 10/23 CLARK MONTESSORI (CINCINNATI) 10/30 @ CINCINNATI COUNTRY DAY