By Scott Halasz
RIVERSIDE — The Patriots are going Back to the Future.
Former All-Ohio performer Ben Rulli, a 2003 CHS graduate, takes over as head coach after three sub par seasons led to the retirement of Coach Bob Levy.
“It’s good to be home,” Rulli said.
Now that he has come back, Rulli wants to be the Pied Piper and get the Patriots fan base to follow.
“We need to make the Carroll community proud again to attend football games,” Rulli said, admitting that fans don’t want to sit and watch blowouts, which was commonplace the last few years.
To do that, Rulli, 29, is taking the Pats backward before they move forward.
“We’re going to reintroduce the football culture that we’re used to,” Rulli said. “We’ve got to become more physical.”
He likes what he sees so far but is cautiously optimistic.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Rulli said. “We’re a young team. We’re junior led.”
The Patriots are going to do what Carroll football had done so well for much of the 1990s and 2000s.
“We’re going to run the ball,” Rulli said, calling the offense a hybrid double wing. “We’re not going to sling it 50 times a game. Carroll is built to run the football.”
Carroll had a hard time stopping the opposition and Rulli is hoping the 50 slant defense will keep that from continuing into 2014. It’s what he ran during a successful run at Proctor. It’s not complicated.
It’s about being physical and gang tackling.
Senior Thomas Barnes is a “legit” kicker/punter, Rulli said.
“He’s a weapon,” Rulli said.
Rulli himself was a top-notch kicker at Carroll, and boomed kickoffs and extra points high into the night.
“When he hits it, people say “oh, that reminds me of you,’ ” Rulli said.
Aug. 29 vs. Meadowdale — The first game under a new regime usually tells a lot.
Sept. 5 at Beavercreek — Carroll hasn’t beaten the rival Beavers since 2010 and hasn’t scored against them since 2011, losing by a combined 104-0. A good portion of Carroll’s student body comes from Beavercreek so the kids know each other well.
“That’s a big one for the Carroll community,” Rulli said.
Oct. 24 vs. Alter — Another local rivalry, “that school in Kettering” as Rulli called it, is also a Greater Catholic League North Division rival.
Rulli is working hard to change the culture. The Patriots have endured three straight losing seasons, going 2-8, 2-7 and 4-6 since former Coach Steve Bartlett left. Before that, you have to go back to the 1990s to find Carroll’s last non-winning season.
It’s a similar situation to what Bartlett faced when he took over in the mid 1990s. He built Carroll into one of the top programs in the area, including back-t0-back trips to the Division II state semifinals.
Rulli is hoping a physical ground game and stingy defense will return the Patriots to their glory days.