The Groveport Madison High School football team continues to search for its first victory of the season, but it appears to be getting closer.
The Cruisers lost their first two games by 28 and 22 points, respectively, before coming up short in a 7-0 loss to Licking Heights on Sept. 13 to drop to 0-3. Next is a home game against winless Gahanna in their OCC-Ohio Division opener Friday, Sept. 20.
"Gahanna is a team like us -- a team in transition," coach Bryan Schoonover said. "But they still pose a huge challenge. Look at their opponents. They played a Huber Heights Wayne team that was in the (Division I) playoffs in two of the past three years and in the state championship (game) in 2010. They played an athletic Fairfield team and Upper Arlington, which has a strong tradition."
Gahanna lost to Wayne 62-28 on Aug. 30, Fairfield 35-24 on Sept. 6 and UA 31-7 on Sept. 13.
Groveport had an opportunity to force overtime or pull out a win late in regulation against Licking Heights. The Cruisers reached the Hornets' 3-yard line with less than a minute left and had a touchdown nullified by a penalty that pushed them back to the 8. Then, on the final play of the game, they had a pass dropped in the end zone.
"In addition to the final play, we had a touchdown called back because of a penalty," Schoonover said. "But I love the fight of these guys and the way they're working hard to get better."
Groveport's scoring opportunity in the waning moments of the game was set up by safety Tyren Jackson, who forced a Licking Heights fumble with four minutes left.
"We wanted the ball back and Coach had just said someone needed to make a play," Jackson said. "So I told the guys in the huddle that when they went to make a tackle to hold the guy up and I would strip the ball. That's exactly what happened two plays later. We worked as a team to get the ball back. We're fighting on every single play.
"This is my senior year and I want to go out with some wins. We all do and we'll do whatever it takes to try to get them. Coach is putting us in position to win. He can't promise us wins, but he has promised that hard work will pay off in anything we do."
According to Schoonover, the hard work is paying off.
"Tyren has been playing great and I think Alex Hoyt did well at nose guard, too," Schoonover said. "We moved Jordan Garrettson from fullback to defensive end last week and he did well in his first game there.
"Offensively, (running back) Mecca Swain, (wide receiver) Markel Davis and (linemen) Kevin Schrader and Cameron Oshodi have stood out and (tight end) Terric Bryant had a good game."
Girls volleyball team aims for consistency
The girls volleyball team was 4-7 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Reynoldsburg on Sept. 17.
Groveport begins the second round of league play Thursday, Sept. 19, at Gahanna. The Cruisers lost to the Lions 25-20, 24-26, 25-12, 25-20 on Aug. 27.
"We're struggling with consistency, but I'm proud of the girls because they're continuing to work hard and they're not getting down on themselves, their teammates or the season," coach Brooke Incorvaia said. "We'll plan an excellent (match) and then struggle to keep the momentum or to follow it up. I think part of that is our inexperience and part of it is not having a winning mindset. We need to learn how to pull out victories.
"We're trying to create that foundation in the program where there is belief we can do it. We want a program that can build excitement for the young girls in our school district."
Incorvaia juggled the lineup during a 25-10, 25-12, 25-11 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 10, with Amanda Madsen moving from weak-side hitter to setter.
"We went to a 6-2 (formation) hoping to spread out the pressure and not put it all on one setter the rest of the way," Incorvaia said. "I think (Madsen has) done a great job stepping up and doing the job. All of the girls will do whatever I ask them to do to improve the team and we've got girls doing some good things.
"Madison Wilson has been very consistent at outside hitter. She hits hard and can place it on the lines or crosscourt. Amanda Arrowood has been consistent in the middle and Shianne Curry is strong at placing her kills. They're all continuing to fight and work to get better."
Girls tennis team shows improvement
The girls tennis team was 3-9 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington Central on Sept. 16, but it entered the rescheduled contest that was postponed Sept. 12 having won two of its previous three matches.
Last week, Groveport defeated Canal Winchester 3-2 on Sept. 9, lost to Newark 3-2 on Sept. 10 in a league match and beat Watkins Memorial 3-2 on Sept. 11.
Senior Alex Goodwin and junior Elise Goodwin won all three of their matches last week at first doubles.
"We're best friends off the court, so our chemistry is there when we're on the court," Alex said of her sister. "We also know we can tell each other stuff on the court that won't be brought home. We leave anything like that on the court."
"She yells at me sometimes about my serving, but then I'll tell her 'That's enough' and she knocks it off," Elise said. "Even when she's encouraging me, I can take it wrong. When she's constantly telling me 'You can do this,' I get the feeling she has some doubts. It's like beating a dead horse. But really, that's about all. It's a good feeling to know we have each other's backs."
The match against Canal Winchester came down to third singles, where sophomore Jordan Walton won 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.
"We're definitely improving overall," Walton said. "I think we're in better shape this year, so we're winning some three-set matches. We conditioned pretty hard (in the offseason). That's helped me because I play a lot of long points. I'm pretty quick and my strength is groundstrokes, so conditioning was important to me."
Juniors Jordan Gilmore and Cheyanne Morris also won all three of their matches at second doubles last week.