SYMMES TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Danny Vanatsky is the consummate vocal leader of a high school football team.
The Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy senior quarterback enjoys the opportunity. After all, he’d like to explore a career in sports broadcasting one day.
“I love sports,” Vanatsky said. “I can’t see myself living without sports in the future.”
The Eagles (12-1 in 2016) couldn’t envision anyone but Vanatsky as their quarterback in the spread offense this fall. He threw for 2,497 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2016. He threw just four interceptions for the entire season.
“He puts us in good positions,” CHCA coach Mark Mueller said. “You will hear him out here leading. He can probably run the offense without any help from the coaches. He is just a great kid.”
Vanatasky, 18, has a 30 on his ACT. He has interest from schools that include William & Mary, Richmond, Furman and Robert Morris. But he’ll worry about his college plans after the season.
CHCA, a Division V program, has a challenging non-league schedule to start the season with three Division IV opponents. CHCA plays host to Fenwick Aug. 25 before playing at Indian Hill (Sept. 1) and hosting Wyoming (Sept. 9).
“I love it,” said Vanatsky, who transferred from Indian Hill after his freshman season. “Ever since I came here I’ve wanted the opportunity to play the best schools in Division IV and stuff like that. It will be great for the program too because we don’t really get to show everyone who we can compete with in the city because we are playing our conference schedule. We are all really looking forward to it and it will be a great test.”
The Eagles, who lost to Coldwater in the 2016 regional final, won’t have to worry about their perennial postseason nemesis. Coldwater, winners of four of the past five Division V state titles, moved to Division VI this season.
Still, the Eagles, who’ve won 19 consecutive regular-season games, are hungry to get started. A high-powered offense with a physical defense should pay dividends.
“He definitely has freedom with certain things in the passing game,” Mueller said. “If he sees something -- with the spread offense -- he knows what the defense is giving him. So he is calling out coverages.”
Offensive Coordinator Steve Metz said Vanatsky has the respect of his teammates -- from all classes. His quick wit and good nature help keep things light.
"It sounds cliche but he is really like having another coach on the field," Metz said. "He's a special kid. He's truly a team guy."
Vanatsky, who is 6 feet 2 and 200 pounds, added about 20 pounds to his frame with strong work in the weight room. As a freshman starter at Indian Hill, he’s seen a lot in his high school career.
Loveland boys’ track and field coach Jim Vanatsky, Danny’s father, used to coach him at Indian Hill when the Braves used a wing-T offense. Jim was proud to see how everything came together for his son in 2016.
“A lot of Danny's success can be attributed to the really good football coaches he has had over the years as far back as flag football with Cincinnati Recreation Commission and his middle school when he started playing tackle football for the first time,” Jim said. “ There have been lots of good coaches along the way.”
Danny Vanatsky is thankful for his experience at CHCA and says he couldn’t ask for a better experience on Snider Road.
“It’s really going to be surreal realizing it’s your last chance,” he said. “It will be great because we have a really competitive team with a bunch of seniors who have seen three years in the past fall short. And so we are not going to let that happen again.”