NORTH COLLEGE HILL – A tumultuous offseason could provide inspiration for North College Hill.
For the first time in several years, Bruce Baarendse will not be coaching the Trojans. The beloved “Coach B” is battling cancer and NCH decided in July that veteran assistant Abasi Key would lead the program this year as interim head coach.
Along with fellow longtime assistants Nate Snow and Dan Wrinkler, Key will lead the Trojans through this difficult transition. Baarendse is on the minds of the coaches and players every step of the way.
“We’ve adopted a motto of ‘B Strong’,” said Key. “It’s in everything we do: ‘B dependable, B passionate, B a leader.’ Coach B has inspired the entire NCH community.”
JuJuan Linzy and DeAndre Shannon will be the top offensive weapons alongside returning quarterback Frankie Steward. Junior defensive end A.J. Hammonds will lead the defense. Justin Graver and Khairi Harris will anchor the offensive and defensive lines.
With the head coaching uncertainty lasting into the summer, the biggest challenge has been keeping the roster from being depleted. Key has gone knocking on doors in the community. He and his assistants have been on the staff for a decade, and they want to let their players know that the NCH program is still on solid ground.
“Slowly but surely, it’s coming together,” said Key. “Gradually, we’re growing every day. The players are trickling back in.”
There will be no backing down despite the adversity this team has faced over the past year.
“Even in what some people may consider a rebuilding year, our expectations are high,” said Key. “Our seniors have bought into the new attitude and new energy.”
Aug. 28 vs. Wyoming
Sept. 4 at Roger Bacon
Sept. 11 at Northwest
Sept. 25 vs. Clark Montessori
Oct. 2 at Cincinnati Country Day
Oct. 9 vs. St. Bernard
Oct. 16 vs. CHCA
Oct. 23 at Summit Country Day
Oct. 30 at Lockland
All games are at 7 p.m. unless noted.