After three seasons as defensive coordinator, Jake Buchholtz has been hired as Northeastern High School’s head football coach.
Buchholtz, 29, takes over for Tim Houseman, who coached Northeastern for three seasons. The Jets went 1-9 last season after finishing 5-5 in 2016 and 2-8 in 2015.
Buchholtz, a 2008 Kenton Ridge graduate, hopes to restore the tradition at Northeastern. The Jets have made the playoffs seven times in school history, but their last appearances came in 2003.
“Every part of our program is going to change, and it needs to,” he said. “You’ve got to come in and do a lot of things different in order to gain trust of the team and some of the community members.”
With changes coming on both sides of the ball, Buchholtz is optimistic the Jets can turn it around this fall. The Jets will run a spread offense this fall, while also playing multiple sets defensively, he said.
“We’ve got great kids to fit our system,” Buchholtz said. “They’re starting to compete and that’s the big focus for us this season.”
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Over the last few months, Buchholtz and his coordinators, brothers Jeremy Windle and Zach Windle, have been prepping for one of the toughest small school divisions in the region, the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division. They’ll play perennial playoff teams West Jefferson, West Liberty-Salem and Mechanicsburg. Fairbanks will also join the division this fall.
“Our conference is super tough,” he said. “We just need to compete and stay competitive. Those are the teams we’re going to have to beat if we want to make the playoffs.”
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The Jets will have a new Week 1 opponent for the first time in decades. Northeastern will travel to Worthington Christian for its opener on Aug. 24.
“We had a couple different options, but they seemed like a good fit and a good program,” he said.
Northeastern will face district rival Kenton Ridge – and its former Week 1 opponent – in a foundation game on Aug. 17. Buchholtz will see a familiar face across the sidelines in Joel Marratta, his former coach. His wife, Jamie, also happens to be Marratta’s stepdaughter.
“We’ve got a great relationship,” Buchholtz said. “He’s been a great resource for me, not just as a person, but from a coaching aspect.”