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O’Hara takes over reins of Rockets program
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Derek O’Hara is taking the reins of the Conotton Valley football program from hall of fame coach Don Hertzler.
Some might say he has big shoes to fill, but the first-time head coach has 10 years of assistant coaching under his belt, including one year as a varsity assistant at Conotton Valley. Prior to that, he spent nine years in the Claymont football program, six as a varsity assistant and three at the junior high level.
He also gained invaluable experience from his grandfather, Dave O’Hara.
“He was in the coaching ranks for 43 years before stepping away. He taught me several invaluable lessons,” the younger O’Hara said.
As for what he is looking for from his young Rocket team, O’Hara says he has three goals for the season: Continue to build on last year; make the playoffs; and win a playoff game.
The 2022 team compiled a 6-5 record and made the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The team’s only other playoff appearance was in 1986 when the squad posted a perfect 10-0 record.
To accomplish those goals, the team will rely on six returning starters: senior linebacker Noah Smith, junior defensive back Brooks Bower, junior linebacker Luke Smith; junior offensive lineman Magnus Andrews; junior quarterback Zach Putnam; and sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Kamden Wright.
The team lost some of last season’s major players to graduation, including four Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) first teamers, three of whom were All-Ohioans. Evan Rice, first team OVAC and second team All-Ohio; Nolan Caldwell, a two-way starter at cornerback and tight end; Gaige Galigher, first team OVAC and East District; Drake Mullins, starting linebacker; Robert Myer, a starting linemen on both sides of the line of scrimmage and first team OVAC and East District and second team All-Ohio; Damon Reardon, starting wide receiver; Dave Haney, starter on the offensive and defensive line; and Ben Haney, a two-way starter at lineman and first team OVAC, East District and All Ohio, must all be replaced.
The Rockets kick off the season at home Aug. 19 with a Saturday night contest against Tuscarawas Central Catholic. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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