Northeastern looking to compete in loaded OHC North Division

Northeastern High School football coach Jake Buchholtz has one goal for the Jets program – rebuild the winning culture.

The first-year coach has seen great competition early in the preseason.

“It starts with competing with one another,” he said. “That’s been a big push for us. If we can’t compete with one another, then it’s going to be hard for us to compete on Friday nights. The kids have responded well and worked their tails off.”

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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. The Jets have made the playoffs seven times in school history, but their last appearance was 2003.

The team understands is must come together to have a successful season, said Buchholtz, the team’s defensive coordinator last season.

“We’re getting to the point where the players can coach each other up and it doesn’t come across as criticism, but becomes more of a motivational tool,” he said. “It’s been a big help for us.”

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The Jets will run a spread offense with a mix of run-pass option plays. It will feature a power running game that’s been the Jets go-to offense for decades, Buchholtz said.

“We’ve got backs who can really run between the tackles,” he said.

Northeastern senior Mac Davis (756 total yards, 9 total TDs), a four-year starter at receiver and quarterback, has stepped up in camp as the team’s leader, Buchholtz said. Sophomore Jake Nichols has also seen time at QB.

“Between those two kids, one is going to be our starting quarterback and the other is going to be the starting tailback,” Buchholtz said. “(Davis) has been through the wringer before and he’s shown a lot of promise. Both will see significant playing time.”

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Four-year starter senior Max Queen will be the team’s primary receiver. He led the team with 680 all-purpose yards last season. Junior Codey Taylor will play fullback, while junior Sam Queen will also see time in the backfield.

Seniors Garrett Miller and Nate Sudhoff will anchor the offensive line along with sophomore Jake Riggle, who excelled in the weight room this offseason, and all-conference second teamer junior Cole Houseman.

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Senior kicker Connor Obee will be a big addition to the Jets squad, Buchholtz said. He’s been hitting 45-yard field goals during practice.

Defensively, the Jets will run a 4-3. Senior defensive end Michael Burns led the Jets with three sacks last season, while Nichols (43 tackles) and Davis (42 tackles) will also play linebacker and safety, respectively.

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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.

In conference play, they’ll battle with several perennial playoff contenders in West Jefferson, Mechanicsburg and West Liberty-Salem.

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“If we can compete, good things will happen,” Buchholtz said. “We’re in a very tough conference and our kids realize that, but I think it also drives them to know that if we can play with these teams that are perennial contenders, we can play with anybody.”

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