The St. Charles Preparatory School water polo team won a second consecutive state championship last fall, but the Cardinals will be hard-pressed to repeat this season.
St. Charles has only one returning varsity player in starting senior goalie Carl Calcara. The rest of the roster is comprised of j.v. players from a year ago.
"We're rebuilding this year," said coach Geoff Gear, whose is in his sixth season leading the program. "We would like to reload, but we don't have the experience. Some of these kids are pretty new to the sport, so it may take some time."
The Cardinals were 7-4 before playing Sept. 8 and 9 in the Worthington Cup. On Sept. 5, they defeated Worthington Kilbourne 16-4.
Aside from Calcara, seniors include Asher Friend (center), Tyler George (driver) and Alex Kendall (driver).
Juniors include Sam Aslaner (driver), Dylan Hammon (driver), Andrew Hoffman (center defender), Casey Horan (center) and Franz Kabelka (center guard).
"We have a lot of potential," Gear said. "We have a strong junior class, which had a lot of success at the j.v. level, but that's different than playing varsity. These guys know what it takes to win and are willing to put in the necessary work to be successful."
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Andrew Alfred (driver), David Aslaner (goalie), Joey Hickman (center defender), Jack Lumpe (goalie), Noah Miller (driver) and Sam Smith (center) as well as freshmen David Allen (driver), David Dixon (driver), Colin Hawes (driver), Joe Heller (driver), Josh Joseph (driver), Adam Lieser (driver), Bryce Long (driver), Derek Nguyen (driver), Vincent Sears (driver), Connor Timmons (driver), Nick Ward (driver) and Tyler Welty (center defender).
"The experience of playing together has helped us, and the more we play, the better we'll get," Gear said. "But we are young, we're not fast and we're not strong. We need to focus on working on those aspects of the game. We have a good work ethic, but we have to work to get bigger, faster and stronger."
Last season, the Cardinals defeated Toledo St. Francis 16-6 in the state championship game at Mason. They defeated Upper Arlington 14-13 in overtime in a state semifinal.
St. Charles earned the North Region title to advance to state. The Cardinals beat Kilbourne 14-8 and host Toledo St. John's 9-8 to win the region.
Football team travels to Toledo
The football team heads north to play Toledo Rogers on Friday, Sept. 14. Last season, the Cardinals won 24-6.
The Rams were 2-1 after defeating Northland 20-8 on Sept. 7. They opened with a 49-8 victory over Highland Park (Mich.) on Aug. 24 and lost to Fairfield 24-18 on Aug. 31.
Quarterback Dominic Jones threw three touchdown passes against Northland.
"We have played a lot of athletic teams this year and (the Rams) are no exception," said coach Jeff Pharion, whose team is on a two-game winning streak. "It's going to be a similar scenario to our last two games. They have a talented athletic quarterback, just like we saw against Beechcroft and Eastmoor (Academy)."
The Cardinals improved to 2-1 after John Colosimo kicked a 46-yard field goal with 35.5 seconds remaining to defeat Beechcroft 20-18 on Sept. 7.
"It's kind of been a trend for us lately, to play well late and make things happen to win," Pharion said. "I'm proud of the way we have been playing."
Colosimo also had a 22-yard field goal and Jon Radney had a 20-yard touchdown run. Linebacker Jack France had two interceptions, returning one 30 yards for a score.
Sean Fitzmartin rushed 23 times for 75 yards and Radney added 61 yards on seven carries. Ryan Bailey completed 12 of 18 passes for 124 yards.
The Cardinals earned their first win of the season Aug. 31, defeating Eastmoor 27-23 on a broken play late in the fourth quarter.
St. Charles lined up for a field goal, but a bad snap to holder Graham Plageman turned into a score. Plageman hit Sean Hennessey with a 34-yard touchdown pass to cap a 21-point comeback in the fourth.
"Graham yelled 'fire' after the bad snap and he saw Sean running downfield and hit him," Pharion said of Plageman, a starting wide receiver. "We were having trouble kicking all night and that would prove to be the difference to help us win the game. We were able to turn something bad into something good."
Fitzmartin led the Cardinals with 79 yards rushing on 20 carries, and he started the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a score.