GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Tyler Parrish admits it’s been a difficult adjustment to have three head football coaches in the past four years.
But, the Oak Hills senior linebacker feels the vibe is different this preseason with first-year head coach Kyle Prosser, a 2004 Oak Hills graduate.
“We’re super excited,” Parrish said at practice last week. “We’re hyped up. Prosser brings a lot more energy than last year.”
Oak Hills has won three games over the past two seasons including a 1-9 record in 2015. The seniors don’t need a reminder of their record. They just carry the chip on the shoulder to begin their final high school season.
“You’ve got to come out and you put got to put in the hard work because it’s not just going to get handed to you,” said senior fullback/outside linebacker Cooper Scholz, the son of former Oak Hills coach Dan Scholz.
“(Prosser) told us when he was here how every game they would beat the crap out of teams and people would leave the field limping because they were hurt so bad. We kind of want to implement that back in here again instead of letting people cake walk us.”
Oak Hills opens the season Aug. 25 against Covington Catholic at 7 p.m. at Mount St. Joseph in the 19th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. It’s practically a home game for Oak Hills and will mark Prosser’s return to MSJ, where he graduated in 2008.
“It will be pretty neat to lead my alma mater on that field,” said Prosser, who was hired in February after being a Thomas More College assistant.
The players have noticed the Oak Hills community is taking notice of the team too. Prosser initiated some cleaning projects around some of the primary schools this summer.
“These guys have been through a lot,” Prosser said of the seniors. “They have been through three head coaches and three-and-a-half athletic directors I should say coming in as well. Watching these guys bond -- it’s been exciting to see.”
Some of the players were surprised to learn residents of the community know who they are. The anticipation is palpable around the school.
"They know they have an Oak Hills boy coming back coaching us," Parrish said. "They’re ready because they can tell he’s all in. Of course we have those people who say bad things about us but we just block them out and we’re focused on ourselves ready to prove them wrong.”
Oak Hills Athletic Director Tony Hemmelgarn said Prosser is the embodiment of the "All In" philosophy.
"He is a passionate and energetic team player and has fired up the program and community," Hemmelgarn said. "We have more players out now than in a long time. He doesn't just talk the talk, but he walks the walk. I have no doubt he will succeed and that Oak Hills will quickly be a program to be reckoned with. I'm happy to have him on my team."
Junior quarterback Jacob Woycke, who threw for 2,947 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, notices a significant difference in the camaraderie in the locker room and on the field.
“It’s a different atmosphere from last year,” Woycke said. “Our team chemistry is a lot different. Last year, we were kind of turned against each other. This year, we were all getting together and competing on the field.”
Prosser has an engaging personality that resonates with players and visitors alike. This summer the team spent some time in the pool and conducted a few skits and a talent show to lighten up the atmosphere.
“A lot of them busted me up making fun of the new head coach,” Prosser said with a smile.
Senior wide receiver Jason Smith, who recently picked up a scholarship offers from Valparaiso, described the team as a “brotherhood.”
"Defensively and offensively, we are working hard together,” Smith said. “We get after each other a little bit. We know when we need to cut it out. As soon as we started the summer we knew what we needed to turn around.”
Parrish said switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive formation has been an adjustment but he likes the energy that goes along with that.
“A lot of it is just hustle,” Parrish said. “A big emphasis this year is just flying to the ball as a defense. Getting all 11 guys to the ball, making a tackle and rallying around each other.”
Cooper Scholz said the program wants to build a foundation not just for this year but in the future.
“We really want to change the culture around and take that next step towards winning a couple more games and getting respect from those other teams who think we are second-class people,” Scholz said.