INDIAN HILL – There’s the coaches poll, the state poll, and at Indian Hill High School, the popcorn poll.
A good barometer of how the Braves football team is doing at Tomahawk Stadium hinges on popcorn consumption. During a recent home game, concessions sales were so good there wasn’t a kernel to be found as fans cheered on Coach Tony Arcuri’s undefeated squad.
Last season Indian Hill had their first winning season since 2009. This fall, they could be on their way to their first Cincinnati Hills League championship since 2008
“We’re actually a little bit ahead of schedule,” Arcuri said. “I don’t want to say I didn’t anticipate this, but I knew some things would have to break our way and they have.”
The 2014 Braves finished in the middle of the pack of the CHL, but did defeat Madeira on their way to a 5-4 season. Over the summer, Arcuri switched 6-foot-5 junior Reed Aichholz back to quarterback and opened up the offense.
As a result, senior Nick Heidel, sophomore Colin Shaw and junior Dawson Aichholz are among the league’s leaders in receiving yards.
“We’ve got so many skill kids and we just figured in order for those guys to have the ball, we’d have to do things different,” Arcuri said. “We’re not going to line up and run anyone over on a consistent basis, but we can distribute the ball to our athletes.”
Heidel does a little bit of everything at Indian Hill including playing defense, returning kicks, punting and placekicking. Like most of his teammates, Heidel enjoys the new attitude and approach.
“We haven’t had too much success the past few years but (Coach) Arcuri came and flipped it around,” Heidel said.
Anybody on any given night can contribute. However, Reed Aichholz has been a constant. After catching passes last year, the bruising lefty is back under center. He leads the league in passing yards and is among the rushing leaders.
“He can create when things break down,” Arcuri said. “When things aren’t open or come off as designed, he can make things happen on his own.”
One of his favorite targets is his brother, Dawson. If he can’t find Heidel or Shaw, he almost always can find his fraternal twin whom he’s thrown to in various sports since the second grade.
“It’s good to bring the tradition back,” Aichholz said. “We’ve been blessed with athletes and coaches that have put a lot of work in the last couple of off-seasons.”
Also rushing the ball for Indian Hill are senior Nick Gehrich and junior Zarian Hunter-Cure.
A recurring theme in Indian Hill’s success is multi-sport athletes. The Aichholz brothers, Heidel and Shaw are also teammates on the basketball floor for the Braves.
“We need to be able to share athletes across the board,” Arcuri said. “We work together very well and understand that if they have success in one place, it’s likely to follow in the other.”
The Braves have already beaten Wyoming and Taylor and still have Deer Park and a tough Reading team ahead on the schedule before making postseason plans.
“We have to prove we deserve to be where we are by beating the top teams that have been in the league the last few years,” Arcuri said.