It would be an understatement to say the Bexley High School football team picked up a much-needed victory Oct. 25 at London.
The 28-20 win snapped a three-game losing streak and, more importantly, gave the Lions control of their Division IV, Region 13 playoff destiny entering the regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1, against visiting Columbus Academy.
"At the end of the game it was more relief than anything," said coach John Smith, whose team is 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division. "It had been a long three weeks here, longer than any three weeks I have ever been through."
After opening the season with five consecutive wins, a feat last accomplished in 1982, the Lions lost at home to West Jefferson (21-14 on Oct. 4), at Madison Plains (47-31 on Oct. 11) and at home to Ready (62-13 on Oct. 18).
Bexley trailed London 20-14 after three quarters and hurt itself by losing three of its four fumbles in the game. However, Rasheed Morgan's 33-yard touchdown run followed by Adam Hirsch's extra point gave Bexley a 21-20 lead with 11 minutes, 9 seconds to play. Quarterback Andre Stewart had an 11-yard scoring run with 1:25 remaining to seal the win.
Morgan rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Bexley finished with 359 yards rushing on 50 attempts while holding the Red Raiders to 116 yards on 42 carries.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but it was a win," Smith said. "It was a well-needed win, and we'll take them any way we can get them."
Like Bexley, Academy also is in a must-win situation when the teams meet in their annual battle for the Mayor-Headmaster Trophy. The Vikings, who have won the last four meetings and seven of the last 11 in the series, qualify for the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs with a win.
Entering the game, the Lions are projected to be fifth in Region 13 and the Vikings, who are 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the MSL-Ohio, are projected to be 10th in Region 21. The top eight teams in both regions advance to the postseason.
"It's Academy week and that is pretty much all that needs to be said," Smith said. "We haven't given them much of a fight the last four years and it is nice to be back in the situation to be competing when the game means something."
Bexley's last win in the series came in 2008, a 42-20 victory that helped the Lions secure their last postseason berth.
"They are probably one of the most well-coached offensive football teams that I have ever gone against," Smith said. "They get the most out of their kids and if you make one mistake, they will take advantage of it."
With the postseason at stake, Smith will be making sure his team is ready for the challenge.
"We'll make sure they are doing the right things in preparation for this coming week," he said. "I think the kids are in a positive frame of mind and anytime you can play a rivalry game of this magnitude, this is why you play high school football."
Kellogg runs to state berth
Ian Kellogg ran 16:25.31 to place fourth of 133 runners in the Division II regional boys cross country meet Oct. 26 at Troy and qualify for state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional advanced.
Kellogg became the first Lions boys runner to earn an individual state-qualifying berth since Zach Arace in 2009.
Bexley placed sixth (156) of 16 teams as Tipp City Tippecanoe (88), Springfield Shawnee (98), Dayton Carroll (110) and Cincinnati Wyoming (122) advanced.
Also scoring for the Lions were Patrick Lape (36th, 17:18.78), Peter Hayden (48th, 17:30.63), Cole Keny (52nd, 17:33.85) and Alex Meyer (53rd, 17:34.3).
The girls were seventh (223) of 16 teams at regional behind state-qualifiers Tippecanoe (67), Dayton Oakwood (80), Granville (87) and Kettering Alter (100). Scoring for the Lions were Regan Detwiler (21st, 19:51.26), Meg Rhoads (55th, 20:58.54), Veronica Mendivil (57th, 20:59.29), Meghan Hayden (62nd, 21:11.92) and Jocie Steinke (95th, 22:18.53).
Girls soccer team wins district title
Juniors Sophie Schottenstein and Addie Cini scored goals to lead the girls soccer team to a 2-0 upset of third-seeded DeSales in a Division II district final Oct. 26 at Westerville Central.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kendall Hecker stopped five shots for the fourth-seeded Lions, who improved to 12-6-1 and won their first district title since capturing six in a row from 2005-10.
"The girls showed a lot of character tonight," coach Jared Dombrowski said. "They played the way we wanted to and our game plan to a tee."
DeSales won the Division II state championship in 2011 and was state runner-up in 2012.
The Lions, who defeated 11th-seeded and visiting Hartley 3-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 23, played Granville in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Zanesville. The winner plays Millersburg West Holmes or Hillsboro in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined, with the regional champion moving on to a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 5, against Alter, Cincinnati McNicholas, Hamilton Ross or Tippecanoe at a site to be determined.
The state final is Nov. 8 at Crew Stadium.
"I cannot be more proud of my players," Dombrowski said. "They have battled adversity all year and gone beyond anyone's expectations, except for the coaching staff.
"We knew what kind of special group we were going to have and things are starting to come to fruition."
Boys soccer team returns to regional
The boys soccer team captured its third consecutive Division II district title by defeating third-seeded Big Walnut 2-0 on Oct. 26 at Westerville South.
Chase Roddy scored on a header off a corner kick from Adam Hirsch to make it 1-0 about midway through the second half. Hirsch then scored with about six minutes to play.
Goalie Eli Feuer made three saves to help the sixth-seeded Lions improve to 12-4-3 and advance to play Cincinnati Indian Hill in a regional semifinal Oct. 30.
The winner plays Bellbrook or Middletown Fenwick in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined, with the regional champion moving on to a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, against Coshocton, Minerva, Vincent Warren or Watterson at a site to be determined.
The state final is Nov. 9 at Crew Stadium.
"To lose so many good players from last year, start the way we did (1-3) and find a way to win the district is special," said coach Greg Kullman, who guided Bexley to a state semifinal a year ago. "All credit goes to our players, who continue to give all they have to this team."
In a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home, Bexley defeated 11th-seeded Mifflin 2-1.
Field hockey team falls in district semi
After winning its opening tournament game for the eighth consecutive season, the field hockey team fell in a district semifinal for the third year in a row to finish 13-5 overall.
The third-seeded Lions defeated eighth-seeded Upper Arlington 1-0 on Oct. 17 at home, but lost to visiting sixth-seeded Watterson 2-0 five days later. The Lions had defeated the Eagles 2-1 during the regular season for their first win over Watterson since 2007.
Junior goalie Abby Barno made four saves in the tournament loss.
"We had some unknowns going in and it hasn't been easy, but last year we only won nine games and now we're at 13," said coach Kara Hardesty, whose team loses five senior starters in Kayley Barno, Megan Elisar, Emily Gatterdam, Marissa Kelly and Courtney Peterson. "It's a small group (of seniors), but they're an important group.
"They are such a nice group of girls and they are self-motivated."
Kayley Barno had 12 goals and three assists, sophomore Ashley Barno had 11 goals and four assists and Peterson had five goals and eight assists.
In the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division, Bexley placed second (7-1) behind Columbus Academy (8-0) and ahead of Watterson (6-2), Worthington Kilbourne (4-4), Hartley (3-4-1), New Albany (3-5), Columbus School for Girls (2-5-1), Granville (2-6) and Lancaster (0-8).
Volleyball team finished .500
The girls volleyball team finished 12-12 overall for its first .500 season in five years.
In the MSL-Ohio, the Lions placed fifth (6-8) behind West Jefferson (14-0), London (11-3), Worthington Christian (9-5) and Academy (8-6) and ahead of Grandview (5-9), Madison Plains (3-11) and Whitehall (14-0).
Junior outside hitter Olivia Riley was first-team all-league with 294 kills, while junior setter Mary Massarelli was second-team all-league with 646 assists.
"I am really proud of this team," said coach Edward Cruz, whose team loses three seniors.
"They certainly stepped it up as the year progressed and finished the season very strong. We won more games than the team has won in five years and we have accomplished a lot."
The 11th-seeded Lions fell 25-16, 25-7, 21-25, 25-19 at fourth-seeded Marion Elgin in the second round of the Division III district tournament Oct. 19. Bexley defeated 19th-seeded Madison Plains 25-21, 25-18, 25-23 in the first round Oct. 16.