Committing turnovers deep inside the opponent's territory usually isn't a winning formula, and that was the case for the Bexley High School football team in a 20-0 home loss to Newark Catholic on Sept. 28.
However, coach John Smith wasn't completely discouraged.
"It was a pretty good night for us," he said. "We missed a field goal after driving it inside the 10 the opening drive.
"We had a couple mental mistakes and were inside the 10 the next drive and we fumbled. In the second half we blocked a punt and had a third-and-5 from the 5-yard line and threw an interception."
Smith wants to see his offense take the next step and become consistent.
"We just didn't finish (against the Green Wave)," he said. "We had opportunities. We were able to move the ball pretty much to the 10-yard line, but once we got there we made mistakes."
Bexley fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division entering its league game Friday, Oct. 5, at Columbus Academy.
Even though the Lions were shut out by Newark Catholic a week after a 38-0 league win over Lakewood, Smith said it wasn't a big step back.
"I thought the last two weeks were tremendous for us offensively," he said. "They're starting to understand the offense. We really came off the ball and were physical offensively. We need to limit the mistakes. We will have just one person make a mistake, but that one mistake ends up being a costly one.
"(Take) nothing away from Newark Catholic, but we hurt ourselves. Offensively we stopped ourselves and defensively we gave up five big plays, really. We played really well for 45 minutes and, for three minutes, we didn't do very well."
Academy improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the league by defeating Heath 42-21 at home Sept. 28.
Smith won his first two games against Academy, but he has seen the Mayor-Headmaster Trophy go to the Vikings the past three seasons, including last year's 42-14 home loss.
"For three years we haven't done a very good job (against Academy), nor has it been very competitive from our end," Smith said. "We're excited (to play Academy) and looking forward to teeing it up and getting the opportunity to potentially get (the trophy) back."
Against Heath, Jared Harris led the Vikings by scoring on runs of 5 and 20 yards and catching a 1-yard touchdown pass from Hart Wise. Brice Bailey scored on runs of 72 yards and 1 yard.
"We've both lost to Newark Catholic and both have had opportunities to win games, but Academy has some very special kids who are really good athletes," Smith said. "We have a tall task in front of us."
Smith said the Lions are getting strong contributions from Greg Miller (RB/DB), Jacob Old (LB), Rasheed Morgan (RB) and Mike Herwald (OL/DL).
"Greg Miller is playing really well," he said. "Jacob Old was back (against Newark Catholic) after being out for two weeks and was a welcome addition defensively. I thought Rasheed Morgan played well. He's starting to come into his own.
"Mike Herwald played well both offensively and defensively. He stepped in at the center position and did well for us. Those guys are doing a good job. They're consistent. We're getting more consistent (as a team)."
Boys soccer team learning lessons
Playing up a division is something boys soccer coach Greg Kullman does to prepare his team for the tough matches that are to come in the Division II postseason.
Bexley played a pair of games against Division I teams the past few weeks, losing to Hilliard Davidson 2-1 on Sept. 15 and Gahanna 3-0 on Sept. 22.
"We struggled early against Davidson but came back with a much better performance in the second half," Kullman said. "While we didn't get the result we had hoped, the team did prove that they had fight in them and we were close to getting an equalizer in the game."
Things didn't go as well against Gahanna.
"We really struggled with possession," Kullman said. "When you can't keep the ball against good teams, more often than not the score line reflects it. Gahanna beat us in every aspect of the game.
"What can that teach us? That you can't win when you can't keep the ball."
Bexley tied Granville at 0 in a league game Sept. 27 at home and won at Jonathan Alder 5-1 on Sept. 29.
Kullman would like to see more from his defense.
"That starts with our ability to communicate," he said. "It's getting better, but it's not quite where it needs to be."
Tucker Stas has played well in the midfield, according to Kullman, as have Micah Linger and Adam Hirsch on the attack.
Jacob Cini leads the Lions with eight goals.
Jacob Hodge has scored seven goals and Sebastian Parra-Maya has 29 saves.
The Lions are 7-2-3 overall and 3-0-1 in the MSL-Ohio entering their game Thursday, Oct. 4, against Whitehall.
Columbus Academy leads the MSL-Ohio at 5-0 with one league game remaining Oct. 11 at Bexley.
"The remaining games on our schedule have huge implications for league standings as well as for seeding for the Division II district tournament," Kullman said. "We need to continue working on our ability to make those around us better and that happens from understanding the game, but more importantly, our mental focus and teamwork."