Bexley High School football coach John Smith said he is surprised by how physical his team is becoming.
The latest evidence in that regard came Sept. 12, when the Lions controlled the line of scrimmage and rushed for 410 yards in a 34-22 victory over visiting Centennial.
Bexley, which went 2-8 a year ago, improved to 3-0 for the second time in three seasons. The Lions won their first three games in 2011, but finished 5-5.
"It feels pretty good. This was one of our goals coming in, to be in this position at this point in time, and we've met that first goal," Smith said. "I guess coming into the season I didn't think I expected us to be where we're at right now, physicality wise.
"I felt like we had some physical running backs coming in. Where our offensive line is at, at this point in time, I don't think I envisioned this."
Jack Needles (LT), Daniel Lee (LG), Jake Dorochenko (C), John Yee (RG), Eric Maxwell (RT) and Youssef Abou Hashish (TE) comprised the starting unit that helped wear down the Stars' defense. Centennial dressed only 23 players.
Junior quarterback Andre Stewart ran 17 times for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also was 7-for-12 passing for 49 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Senior Zach Ward ran for 54 yards and two scores on 17 carries and classmate Jacob Old had 109 yards rushing on nine attempts. Senior Rasheed Morgan, who missed the first two games for what Smith said was a violation of team rules, ran for 67 yards on five carries.
"I thought it was a tremendous team effort," Smith said. "I couldn't be prouder of where we are as an offensive line."
Bexley scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 21-13 lead into halftime. Stewart scored on a 1-yard run, Ward had a 2-yard touchdown run and Smith threw a 13-yard scoring pass to junior receiver Nassir Cauthon.
Stewart's 19-yard touchdown run gave the Lions a 28-16 lead with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left in the third quarter. After the Stars pulled within 28-22, Ward provided the final margin with a 4-yard scoring run with 43.1 seconds remaining in the third.
The Lions open MSL-Ohio Division play Friday, Sept. 20, at Grandview looking for their first 4-0 start since 2006.
The Bobcats, who improved to 1-2 by defeating Fairfield Christian 27-0 on Sept. 13, opened with a 20-7 loss to Centennial on Aug. 30.
"We got to see the Grandview-Centennial film. I thought they ran the ball well," Smith said of the Bobcats. "They held Centennial to 20 points (and) we only held them to 22.
"That is the next step and our next set of goals is our rivals, and that is kind of what we are looking at right now."
Field hockey team off to strong start
An ability to effectively pass the ball has powered the field hockey team through its first six games.
The Lions were 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division entering their game against Hartley on Sept. 16.
"I think this is probably the best passing team that I have had since I have been at Bexley," 11th-year coach Kara Hardesty said. "They anticipate and pass into open space more than any other group that I have had.
"Our passing, with our speed, is making a difference with our offense thus far."
Senior forward Kayley Barno led Bexley with five goals through six games. She scored in a 2-0 win over the Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 9 and in a 2-1 overtime win over Olentangy Liberty two days later.
Junior forward Grace Rosenthal, sophomore forward Ashley Barno and junior midfielder Andrea Dressel each had two goals entering the week. Senior forward Courtney Peterson's first goal of the season was the overtime winner against Liberty.
"They are genuinely happy for each other when someone else has success. It is not about themselves," Hardesty said. "They are very unselfish and they get excited for each other."
Junior goalkeeper Abby Barno, who also is a forward on the girls soccer team, allowed only four goals in her first five games. Lucy Fowler posted the shutout in goal against CSG.
Senior Marissa Kelly has helped control the midfield for Bexley, according to Hardesty, while seniors Emily Gatterdam and Megan Elisar have anchored the defense.
"I think we can be better than last year's team because of the cohesiveness and the people we have returning," said Hardesty, whose team went 9-5-4 overall a year ago and reached the second round of the district tournament. "We have the potential to go farther than we did last year."
Girls soccer team wins league opener
The girls soccer team improved to 3-2-1 overall with an 11-0 victory over Madison Plains in its MSL-Ohio opener Sept. 9.
The Lions played Bloom-Carroll on Sept. 17. They return to league play Thursday, Sept. 19, at West Jefferson.
After dropping its opener to Cincinnati Mariemont 2-0 on Aug. 17, Bexley received goals from senior Sarah Dawley and Abby Barno in its 2-1 victory at Watkins Memorial three days later.
The Lions played Hartley to a scoreless tie Aug 24 before defeating Zanesville 3-2 on Aug. 29, as freshman Ashley Bolon scored twice.
Bexley lost to DeSales 2-0 on Sept. 7 but responded against Madison Plains. Bolon scored three times, and junior Addie Cini and freshman Maddie Marsh each had a pair of goals.
Cross country teams fare well at McGowan
Senior Ian Kellogg of the boys cross country team posted a time of 16:38.39 to place fifth of 283 runners in the Division II race of the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 7 at Watkins Memorial.
The Lions were sixth (156) of 23 teams behind champion Thornville Sheridan (79).
For the girls team, senior Regan Detwiler placed 31st (21:00.97) of 268 runners as the Lions finished fifth (224) of 24 teams behind champion Athens (100).