When Deke Hocker took over as coach of the St. Charles Preparatory School football team last winter, he quickly found one of his leaders in Taylor Bryant.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior excels at both running back and linebacker and has helped the Cardinals double their win total from last season. They are 2-4 after opening CCL play Sept. 28 with a 35-7 loss to DeSales.
"Taylor Bryant is what we call a football player," Hocker said. "He brings passion to the game. He's physical, smart and willing to do anything for his teammates. He loves playing football."
Bryant has rushed for 513 yards and seven touchdowns on 121 carries and has four catches for 30 yards. He also has 37 tackles, including three for loss, at linebacker.
"I like playing both (running back and linebacker), but maybe I like running back a little more because it's always good to score points," said Bryant, who had 14 tackles and rushed for 52 yards on 19 carries against DeSales. "It's kind of cool to see the field and make cuts when you need to. I just love being able to hit people on either side of the ball.
"I think it helps playing both running back and linebacker. You can really tell what an offensive guy is wanting to do when he has the ball and you can get there right before him."
The Cardinals, who finished 1-9 last season, defeated Independence 35-6 on Sept. 7 and New Philadelphia 41-21 on Sept. 14.
"Our first win this season was awesome," Bryant said. "It was amazing after what happened last year. We were thinking about not winning many last year and that we were able to win when it was still really early in the season. We were just overwhelmed with emotion."
St. Charles plays host Friday, Oct. 5, to Mansfield Madison, which it defeated 45-13 last season. The Rams are 1-5 after losing to Ashland 49-0 on Sept. 28.
The Cardinals had two rushers go over 100 yards last fall against Madison. Bryant ran for 113 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries, and quarterback Brooks McCann, a 2018 graduate, had 104 yards and two scores on 21 attempts.
"We really needed that game last season," Bryant said. "I remember we pounded the ball against them and did what we needed to do to win. It was a good game for us."
Bryant said the change in leadership has been good for the Cardinals. They have a new enthusiasm that has helped both on and off the field.
"The new coaching staff and everything going on has been positive for me and my teammates," Bryant said. "There's a great energy and all of the guys are coming out here and they are giving it their all.
"The senior leadership has been great. It hasn't just been the captains but everyone, and we're really helping the younger kids do their jobs."
Hocker said Bryant's effort is indicative of his hard-working team, which has been making improvements from one week to the next.
"Taylor finds how to get yards when there isn't a hole," Hocker said. "He has speed and power, but he also does whatever he can to get forward and get positive yards.
"He does a lot of things really well but he hustles everywhere and he has a great attitude and heart. From the first play to the last play, winning or losing, he has the same mentality."
Golf team opens postseason play
The golf team began the postseason Oct. 2 with a Division I sectional at Darby Creek.
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley. At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams qualify for state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
The Cardinals also compete Saturday, Oct. 6, in the Wedgewood Showcase.
On Sept. 29, St. Charles finished fifth (311) of 17 teams in the Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Tartan Fields behind the champion and host Celtics (296). Oliver Mauntel led the Cardinals with a 73.
Soccer team clinches share of CCL title
The soccer team defeated DeSales 4-1 on Sept. 25 to clinch at least a share of the CCL championship.
Austin Schmitt scored twice and goalkeeper Joseph Marchionda had three saves for the Cardinals, who were 8-2-2 overall and 3-0 in the league before playing Ready on Oct. 2 in the CCL finale.
The Cardinals also tied the top two teams in last week's Division I state poll. They tied No. 1 Cleveland St. Ignatius at 1 on Sept. 22 and played No. 2 Cincinnati Moeller to a scoreless tie Sept. 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the St. Charles cross country, soccer and water polo teams:
Oct. 6 -- Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 4 -- At Hilliard Darby
Oct. 9 -- At Bexley
Oct. 5-6 -- Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer Invitational