CINCINNATI — Taft High School football coach Tyler Williams held the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference championship plaque near the sideline Friday night and started the joyous celebration with his team.
"It's a special moment for my team, for my community, for my family," Williams said late Friday night.
"It's been a great, great journey with these young men right now. We dealt with a lot of adversity throughout this whole regular season, he said, adding, "Just seeing these young men continue to fight each and every day and continue to overcome the adversity that we had been faced with – it's been amazing to watch them grow as a team."
Taft defeated Woodward 34-20 Friday night to capture the CMAC Red division title in the first season for Williams as the Taft head coach.
"Coach Tyler continues to build on the football tradition here at Taft," Taft athletic director Romell Salone said.
"The kids have adjusted and are buying into what he is teaching on and off the field. Our kids are building life relationships and lessons and are really looking forward to the playoffs with hopes to build on the history."
The Senators (7-2, 5-0 CMAC) are projected to be the No. 1 seed in Division V, Region 20, according to Joe Eitel.
The Senators are projected to host No. 16 seed Madeira (4-6) in the first round at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. The Ohio High School Athletic Association plans to officially announce the playoff pairings Sunday afternoon.
Williams, a former Colerain High School star who played at the University of Akron and professionally in the Indoor Football League (IFL), was named the Taft coach in February.
Williams was an assistant coach at Colerain and St. Xavier prior to Taft. His quick success at Taft this season is not a surprise to St. X head coach Steve Specht.
"Tyler has an innate ability to connect with kids and hold them to a higher standard," Specht said. "He's just scratching the surface. He'll be a great one."
Williams said the expectation this preseason was that winning the CMAC title is a "mandatory" step during the season for the program.
"We're winning it with structure, we're winning it with discipline, we're winning it with class," Williams said.
Taft had to overcome multiple injuries this season leading to the conference title, but Williams has emphasized a next player up mantra for the team to get stronger overall.
Williams mentioned multiple players who played well Friday night including junior running back Gavin Crawford, who had an estimated 200-plus yards rushing and five touchdowns.
Defensively, senior linebacker Everett Brown had a key interception. Senior Jakeim Sullivan has six interceptions this season while senior Keyandre Larry has eight interceptions.
Williams said his message to the team entering the playoffs this weekend is to stay patient before the official announcement on the pairings is made by the OHSAA on Sunday.
"Our kids are definitely putting themselves in a position to make a great run in the playoffs," Williams said.