INDIAN HILL – It’s not surprising to hear a team from Indian Hill that plays in Tomahawk Stadium is named “The Braves.”
What many following Indian Hill High School football may not know is the team’s “other” nickname.
Last year, coach Tony Arcuri and staff did some research and found that elite Native American soldiers were referred to as “dogmen.” From there, an idea was born, complete with the obligatory shirts.
“Think of them as special forces when it comes to a Native American warrior,” Arcuri said. “It’s just something to give us distinction. We came out with it and within this community, that’s what our football team is known as.”
To achieve dogman status, a variety of lifts must be completed in the weight room at a predetermined rate of success. There’s also a time to break in an 800 meter run and community service. Along the way, points are accumulated with 1,600 needed to be a “barker” for the Braves.
Last season, only three players made the designation. This season, it’s up to 14.
Part of that is a number of returning players from a squad that finished with its first winning record since 2009.
“Skill position-wise, we’re three deep,” Arcuri said. “Some of those, we don’t really lose a whole lot from guy one to guy three. Our success comes down to how quick will our front five (linemen) develop.”
The full-time quarterback this season is junior Reed Aichholz, who split time as a receiver last season. One of his primary targets is his brother, Dawson Aichholz. Both were dual threats running and catching in 2014.
Nick Heidel has been a jack-of-all-trades for Indian Hill as he led the team in scoring last season with six touchdowns (five receptions, one punt return), one field goal and 18 PATs. He also punted and had 26 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Joining Heidel in that role is Colin Shaw, who started as a freshman.
“He’s a special athlete,” Arcuri said. “We’re not going to play a ton of guys two ways, but some key guys will see the field on both sides of the ball.”
At running back, junior Zarian Hunter-Cure will get his turn running behind senior Grant Gottdiner and the Braves linemen.
With a different quarterback and a number of playmakers, comes a slight philosophical change on offense.
“We’re going to be a lot more wide open,” Arcuri said. “We have so many skill kids. The dilemma is how do you get so many on the field at the same time. You have to put together an offensive package that allows you to do that.”
Indian Hill starts its season at New Richmond Aug. 28. They will visit defending Cincinnati Hills League champ Wyoming Sept. 18 in their quest to win a title.
“It’s not an unrealistic goal,” Arcuri said. “The good news is, if you win the league, you’re probably a playoff team.”
Twitter account: @ihbravesad
Aug 28 – at New Richmond
Sept. 4 – at Waynesville
Sept. 11 – Little Miami
Sept. 18 – at Wyoming
Sept. 25 – Mariemont
Oct. 2 – at Taylor
Oct. 9 – Finneytown
Oct. 16 – at Madeira
Oct. 23 – at Deer Park
Oct. 30 – Reading
All games start at 7 p.m.