Football: Canal Winchester tabs Jake Kuhner as next coach

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Jake Kuhner has been named football coach at Canal Winchester.

Intrigued by what he called “the many positives” within the Canal Winchester football program and an opportunity to return to the OCC, Jake Kuhner didn’t have to think for long about pursuing a chance to lead the Indians.

“The more I looked into it, the more I saw definite positives. … At the end of the day, it was a no-brainer,” said Kuhner, who was named coach Feb. 8. “You look at the players they have and the coaching staff, it’s a tenured staff and they’ve been there through ups and downs and coaching changes. That speaks volumes for the guys who have stayed on and muscled through. They’re a good group and I’m excited to work with them.”

Kuhner, a 2003 Pickerington graduate, comes to Canal Winchester after three seasons at Watkins Memorial in which he went 11-17. He went 14-16 at Whitehall from 2012-14 as the Rams won the MSL-Ohio championship in his final year.

Kuhner, who was a two-time state placer in wrestling and three-time state qualifier in track and field in high school, replaces Josh Stratton. Stratton resigned in November after going 29-13 in four seasons with three Division II playoff appearances and OCC-Capital Division championships in 2018 and 2019.

Kuhner also was Pickerington North wrestling coach from 2015-18 and served as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator in 2017.

“Coach Kuhner is a mentally tough coach who will bring self-discipline and dedication,” athletics director Pat Durbin said in a statement announcing Kuhner’s hire. “Coach Kuhner exudes confidence and a winning attitude full of energy, drive and passion.”

The Indians went 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the league last fall and earned the their first playoff win since 2012 when they defeated Mount Vernon 45-7 in a Region 7 first-round game.

Kuhner currently teaches special education at Watkins Memorial and also coaches the Warriors girls track team.

“I love the challenge and am really looking forward to getting back in (the OCC),” Kuhner said. “They have had great teams against a tough schedule. I’m really excited about getting over there.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave