Note: This sports story appears in the Wednesday, Aug. 7 newspaper on Page B1.
OAK HILL — It’s not easy taking over a program that has made the playoffs five times in the last seven years, but that’s the job Paul Carver signed up for.
After spending the last four years as an assistant coach at Portsmouth West, Carver was ready for the task of taking over a program as the head man.
And what a task he has taking over for Nathan Dugan, who never had a losing record during his seven year tenure at Oak Hill and went 50-24 overall with five trips to the playoffs, including a 29-26 playoff victory in 2012 over Hillsdale.
“Coach Dugan did such a great job during his time here,” Carver said. “He established such a winning tradition and that’s what we want to carry on. For me personally, I’ve always wanted to be a coach and this felt like the perfect opportunity to start.”
This is Carver’s first year as a head coach ever, but a new head coach isn’t the only change Oak Hill’s football program is undergoing this season.
It’s moving from Southern Ohio Conference Division I to Southern Ohio Conference II, meaning that it has to contend now with the likes of Wheelersburg, Minford and Waverly for the division crown.
It’s quite a change after dominating the SOC I for the better part of the decade.
“It’s definitely a new challenge for Oak Hill,” Carver said. “I enjoyed coaching in that division when I was at Portsmouth West so I understand it pretty well. Oak Hill has always played Wheelersburg and Minford, but now we’re playing Waverly and Valley so it’s going to be battle all year.”
With all the changes going around the program, there’s two things Carver says will be relatively the same. The first is the type of system the Oaks will run.
“We’re still going to be a physical, powering running type of team,” Carver said. “That physical style of play seems to fit these kids and their mentalities very well. We tried not to change to much with the system because it was working and winning games. These kids work hard and they’ve been very receptive to what we’ve asked them to do.”
The other thing is the expectations for the upcoming season.
“We want to continue building off what Coach Dugan established,” Carver said. “We’re going to compete night in and night out with a tough schedule, but that’s only going to make us better. We’ve made the playoffs countless times and hopefully that tradition continues.”