Even though the Newark High School football team has fallen on hard times recently, first-year athletics director Ken Long still sees the vacant coaching position as an attractive opportunity.

Even though the Newark High School football team has fallen on hard times recently, first-year athletics director Ken Long still sees the vacant coaching position as an attractive opportunity.

"Newark has a good football history when you look at the broader picture," Long said. "It's a Division I program, and we're building (on campus at the) high school."

The first significant coaching hire of Long's tenure has him searching for a replacement for Jeff Buchanan, who recently stepped down after winning just one game in two seasons. It's a process that will not be rushed, Long said. He added that as of last Friday, a search committee had yet to be formed.

"We're getting a lot of inquiries and resumes, and that's where we're at. We really haven't gotten the process going," Long said. "That's going to start very shortly."

Long didn't want to speculate on the type of coach he might prefer and whether or not that individual might be a veteran or perhaps an assistant looking to move up. He noted that there has been "a lot of interest" from people already involved in the program.

"Once we sit down as a group we'll make those determinations and set the criteria. We're going to take a lot of things into consideration," Long said. "We haven't set any kind of time table. It'll take as long as it takes.

"We want to find the best fit for our situation and do what's best for the school and the kids."

•RECRUITING -- Finding the right fit also is the objective for Granville seniors Michael Hofer and Austen Harrison as they continue to weigh their college options.

Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker and a sprinter in track and field, said last week that he has probably narrowed his choices to Dayton, Ashland and Case Western Reserve. He had a team-high 123 tackles last fall as the Blue Aces finished 9-2 overall and shared the MSL-Ohio Division title.

"The football side of it is important, but so are academics," Harrison said. "Division II and III schools, they can put together a nice (financial) package for you that balances both. That's really what I'm looking for."

Hofer, a 6-4, 230-pound defensive end, said he thought he would end up at Wittenberg but hasn't ruled out playing at a Football Bowl Subdivision school, formerly known as Division I-A. He's also considering Ashland, a Division II program, and was scheduled to meet with coach Lee Owens last Wednesday.

Harrison earned Division III second-team all-state honors last fall as the Blue Aces qualified for the playoffs for a third consecutive season. He made first-team all-district while Hofer was a second-team selection.

National Signing Day is Feb. 3.