NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: Coach Mike Eshbach, Huntington North

Coach Mike Eshbach returns to the area football sideline with Huntington North this season.

We’re less than a month away from the start of a new season of high school football. A new
season means new storylines and opportunities for teams and players to shine on Friday nights.

Usually, we get to talk about high expectations for teams expected to compete for
championships. But there is also another storyline where we get to discuss coaches heading into their first seasons at their respective programs.

As we near the start of the Outside the Huddle 2023 season preview, new OTH correspondent Sam Frick had an opportunity to catch up with several of the newbies recently.

First up – Mike Eshbach of Huntington North.

Mike Eshbach has worn a variety of different hats throughout his time as a football coach:
Eastside, Wawasee, DeKalb, Concordia and now Huntington North.

Most recently, Eshbach was a head football coach in 2021 where he went 2-8 at Concordia, but the opening at Huntington North gave him another chance to coach the sport he loves.

“To be honest, I thought I was retired and done,” said Eshbach. “And so, to come back, this has been a breath of fresh air. We got great kids; I think we got great community support (and) definitely great administrative support.

“It’s been a fun summer. It’s went by really, really quickly as well.”

Eshbach’s presence changes how the team is going to look schematically this fall as they transition to a spread offense. While the transition will inevitably lead to early growing pains, Eschbach has already seen signs of maturity and consistency with this year’s roster.

Eschbach said that one of the Vikings’ strengths is having a lot of skill guys that can make plays. Senior quarterback Ian Wiley, senior middle linebacker Jason Teusch and senior tight end Asher Chipchosky are notable returnees that will play a vital role in what the Vikings envision to be this fall. For them to get over the hump, they will need to translate close games to wins on the field. A year ago, Huntington North lost by just one to East Noble in Week 3 that could have changed the tone of a campaign that finished 3-8.

“I felt like last year, there were several games that were extremely close that could have very well been a win,” Eshbach said. “I think more than anything, it’s going to be if we can pull one or two or three of those close games into wins, that could possibly lead to a winning season.”

Huntington North went 0-4 in games decided by 13 points or fewer last season. Since coming to the Northeast Eight in 2015, the Vikings are 11-46 against their conference.

One other area of improvement entering this season is a defense that allowed over 35 points a game in 2022.

While coaching the game of football can be repetitive in terms of the routine of schedule, Eschbach is looking forward to new opportunities at a new place and getting back on the sidelines this fall.

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