GREEN TWP. – If defense wins championships then the Oak Hills High School football team should feel pretty good going into the season.
The Highlanders return a bevy of starters from a defense that allowed the fourth fewest points in Greater Miami Conference in 2013, led by senior safety Connor Swanger and defensive lineman, Montell Brown, who recorded a team-high seven sacks last season.
Coupled with fellow defensive linemen Brian Kurtz and Ben McGinnis, along with linebackers Davonte McGhee and Eric Scholz, who moves from the outside to inside linebacker, head coach Dan Scholz may have the best defense he’s seen in his time at Oak Hills as he readies for his third season as coach.
“The nice thing about the defense is they give effort all the time,” the elder Scholz said. “They want to be good. … I’ve told the defense it’s their job to go win games and to make plays regardless where they stand on the field. We’ve got to go get the ball and go make plays.”
They’re likely going to have to make plays if the Highlanders are to find any success. Another one of Scholz’s sons, Cooper, will run the offense under center as a sophomore, while senior Brock Schubert and junior David Reddington look to replace the void left by three-time first-team All-GMC running back, Demarco Ruffin.
“I have to fill a big position,” Schubert said. “(Demarco) played at Rapid Run (Middle School) where I played, so I’ve always looked up to him. I’m more of a power running back, so it’s kind of hard, but I’m trying my best and I’ve been working my tail off and hopefully I can fulfill the position.”
Offensively their strength lies upfront with the o-line. Full of size and depth, coach Scholz hopes the experience upfront can make-up for the lack there of in the skill positions.
“We have eight guys we feel good about playing in the five (offensive line) spots,” the coach added. “That’s a very good thing, especially with (wide receiver) Jason Walters returning as really the only returning skill guy. That bodes well for our offensive line to lead our offense.”
The offensive linemen are ready to face the challenge that’s been presented to them in the offseason.
“We’re physical upfront and we’re mean mothers,” senior lineman Saige Meyer said. “With the play calls we’re always attacking and we’re always hitting somebody. Everybody’s always moving, somebody’s always hitting and we’re always moving forward.”
The Highlanders open the season renewing a West Side rivalry against Elder High School for the first time in six years. It’s a game that’s provided the players with plenty of motivation throughout the offseason.
“We’re ready and we’ve been working for it,” senior running back Andrew Gambill said. “We’ve known about it since the end of last season and it’s been our motivation to get up and life at six (in the morning) and it’s been a grind to be ready and play them for the first time in six years.”
Aug. 29: vs. Elder
Sept. 5: vs. Harrison
Sept. 12: at Loveland
Sept 26: at Sycamore
Oct. 3: vs. Mason
Oct:10: at Fairfield
Oct: 17: vs. Lakota East
Oct. 24: at Princeton
Oct. 31: at Colerain
All games start at 7:30 p.m.