By Dan Walk
The Meadville Tribune’s selection for the area’s football Player of the Year came down to Cochranton quarterback Chad Eisenhooth and Lakeview junior running back Blake Reddick, who rushed for 2,147 yards in 12 games and helped the Sailors reach the District 10 Class A semifinals. Eisenhooth received the nod for his overall game — both passing and rushing — as well as his ability to improve a Cochranton team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2003.
He also helped the Cardinals out-score opponents 285-62 during their wins. His passing numbers could have been even greater if not for Cochranton taking its foot off the pedal during those victories, which were each by at least 30 points.
Eisenhooth started under center during his freshman and sophomore years but never saw as much success until his junior campaign. He combined for 994 yards passing his first two seasons, though he missed some games in 2011 due to a broken thumb. Eisenhooth developed into a dual-threat quarterback this season after gaining just six yards on 24 carries last year.
School: Cochranton High School
Vitals: Eisenhooth was the leader of a team that doubled its 2011 win total of three in to six this season and helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Eisenhooth completed 87-of-163 passes for 1,365 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. His 1,290 regular season passing yards were seventh most in District 10 and tops in Region 2 — and that’s during a nine-game schedule. He was also second on the team with 626 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 120 carries.
Season highlights: Eisenhooth had two memorable moments this season, including one that stood out for Cardinals first-year head coach Nate Liberty. Liberty reminisced about how unselfish Eisenhooth was while leading Cochranton down the field in the third quarter of its Week 6 game against Iroquois. Eisenhooth, operating the no huddle with the spread option, never called his number once before lastly handing off to running back Austin Andrews, who scored from two yards away.
Eisenhooth was also impressive during a 41-34 loss to Region 2 power Mercyhurst Prep in Week 2. He threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score. “We also dropped two touchdowns in the end zone,” Liberty said. “That was a game that stood out.”
What the coach says: About his maturing process ... “He always had a strong arm. He just needed little techniques. We worked pretty hard all summer.”
About his versatility as a passer (Eisenhooth completed a pass to eight different receivers this season, including four who had 16-plus receptions. Six players caught a touchdown, four of which had multiple TD catches.) ... “He’s definitely a leader. The kids follow him. You definitely had a general in the shotgun in the spread. We had so many kids score touchdowns. He’s not selfish. He spreads it around.”
About his senior season ... “He’s already in the weight room. He’s already ready to go.” — Nate Liberty, Cochranton head football coach.