Grove City Christian
Eagles new coach focusing on trip to postseason
Andrew McCampbell expects a smooth transition as coach of the Grove City Christian School football team.
McCampbell, 29, replaces Kerry Owens, who resigned following last season because of family and work commitments.
McCampbell is a health and physical education teacher at the middle and high schools, and he was an offensive line coach in the program the past four seasons.
"Going in we know what the kids are going to be able to do and where to build the offense and defense around," he said. "We like to make it so the kids know what to do and don't try to force them to do something they can't do."
The Eagles, who finished 5-5 last season, will be affiliated with a league for the first time. They will compete in the MSL-Cardinal Division with Berne Union, Fairfield Christian, Fisher Catholic, Harvest Prep and Millersport.
"I'm looking forward to the league," McCampbell said. "It's going to be a good opportunity for our guys to step up. It will be the first time we're going to be in a football league, so we're not independent anymore, which is good and we will get better quality opponents and gain more consistent opponents, too."
Depth remains an issue for the Eagles, as they had 24 players on the roster during the preseason.
"Our No. 1 concern is depth, and also size," said McCampbell, whose team opens Friday, Aug. 30, at Columbus Academy. "Those are our two concerns right now, (and) seeing what our offensive and defensive lines can do."
Senior quarterback Nate High (5-foot-10, 199 pounds) will direct the team's spread offense, which also will include pistol schemes. Last season, he completed 36 of 78 passes for 592 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 498 yards and 10 touchdowns on 97 carries.
"We're hoping for seven (wins), and make the playoffs and then go from there," High said. "We have to stay healthy. We have to have a lot of focus and come with our 'A' game every game."
Junior running back Jordan Haywood (5-8, 171) led the team in rushing last season with 1,164 yards and 14 touchdowns on 170 carries. He is the younger brother of Christian Haywood, who played running back for Hilliard Davidson before graduating in 2006.
Senior Casey Stauffer (5-7, 185) and sophomore Caleb Newkirk (5-11, 190) will play fullback.
"It's my senior year, it should be fun," Stauffer said. We're going to give it a good run."
Key wide receivers are juniors Tre Roberts (5-9, 175) and Tristan Taylor (5-9, 145).
Juniors Kylar Hunt (5-7, 180) and Logan Kohl (5-7, 180) are returning starters on the offensive line.
High, Stauffer, Taylor and Hunt are captains.
Other linemen are seniors Aaron Schuler (5-8, 250), Landon Aurentz (6-2, 200) and John Hennis (5-10, 215), sophomores Bill Carson (5-7, 210), Pierce Thissen (5-7, 185) and Jared Sharp (5-9, 255) and freshmen Adam Blake (5-9, 230), Clayton Lepley (5-5, 150) and Joe Pashovich (5-10, 205).
Stauffer will punt and Taylor is the kicker.
The Eagles will feature a 3-5 base defense, with Hunt expected to anchor the line.
Junior Will Whinham (6-0, 160), Newkirk and Stauffer are key linebackers.
Junior Alec Poling (5-10, 165), sophomore Brady Holt (5-6, 125) and Roberts return in the secondary.
Other players are junior Aaron Whitaker (WR/DB; 5-11, 130), sophomore Tavian Sims (RB/DB; 5-4, 150) and freshmen Matt Bailey (QB/DB; 5-7, 140) and Stevie Whinham (RB/DB; 5-9, 130).
Owens was coach the past three seasons, leading the Eagles to a 13-17 record. Before that, he had been an assistant coach in the program since its inception in 2006.
Owens guided Grove City Christian to its only playoff appearance in 2009.
That season, the Eagles reached a Division VI state semifinal before losing to eventual champion Norwalk St. Paul 52-7.
With a seventh playoff division added this year, Grove City Christian has moved from Division VI, Region 23 to Division VII, Region 25.