Akili Taylor is positive that future Upper Arlington High School football players will benefit from having Joel Cutler as their coach in the same way he did the past two seasons playing for Ready.
Taylor, a senior running back who helped the Silver Knights to a Division VI state semifinal last fall, spared no adjectives in describing Cutler's impact.
"He changed my life," said Taylor, who rushed for 1,992 yards and 27 touchdowns and was named district Offensive Player of the Year and a co-Offensive Player of the Year in the state in Division VI. "I feel confident saying I wouldn't be the man I am today without coach Cutler. I wouldn't have the scholarship offers that I do without him. I'm more serious about my academics now than I ever was before. He always told us we weren't just practicing for football, but for life. Everything that happened on the field, we could learn from that for the rest of our lives.
"I was lucky to have him as my coach and the players at UA will be, too."
Cutler, who served as an assistant coach for the Golden Bears from 1999-2011, was named head coach Jan. 6. His hiring was approved by the UA school board during its meeting Jan. 13.
Cutler, 38, replaces Mike Golden, who retired after nine seasons at UA and 25 overall as a head coach with earlier stints at Watterson and New Albany. The Bears finished 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Central Division last season.
"My family and I are extremely thrilled to be back," Cutler said. "Being an educator here and living here, it's terrific to be back with friends and family. We have a great tradition, great men who have led this program and I've had great mentors to learn from. When this job came open, it was a no-brainer decision for me to take a look."
Cutler, a health and physical education teacher at Greensview Elementary School, was 19-5 in two seasons at Ready. The Silver Knights finished 12-2 this past season, losing to eventual state champion Kirtland 10-7 on a last-second field goal in a state semifinal.
Golden announced his retirement after the Bears' season-ending 17-14 loss to Dublin Coffman on Nov. 1.
Boys athletics director Michael Schaefer said Cutler's previous experience at UA and his time in the community were points in his favor.
"Our strengths include our community and tradition, and Joel understands that and is able to embrace that," said Schaefer, who declined to divulge how many applied for the position or how many candidates were interviewed. "Joel's a kid magnet. He's full of enthusiasm and energy, and he's phenomenal with Xs and Os. He has a detail-oriented mind and he's going to impart his energy into our program and our kids."
A 1994 Jonathan Alder graduate, Cutler was a three-year starting center at the University of Dayton.
As an assistant at UA, he coached the offensive and defensive lines and was the co-coordinator of special teams under Golden and Golden's predecessor, Darrell Mayne. The Bears made eight playoff appearances during Cutler's 13 seasons as an assistant and won the Division I state title in 2000.
Cutler, who also served as UA's girls track and field coach in 2010 and 2011, and his wife, Elaine, have 11-month-old twin sons, T.J. and Zack.
UA opens next season Aug. 29 at home against Dublin Jerome. The Bears then will play host to Whetstone on Sept. 5 and travel to Gahanna on Sept. 12 before opening OCC-Central play Sept. 19 at home against Thomas Worthington.
Cutler expects UA's offense to run multiple formations.
"I'm a fundamentalist," he said. "We'll run multiple backs -- two backs, one back, three backs or none -- whatever it takes to get an advantage. (At Ready), we threw for about 3,000 yards this year and had (Taylor) run for 2,000 yards. We averaged 47 points a game and had about 7,000 yards of offense. I think there will be a lot this team (at UA) can do."