For the second consecutive week, the Groveport Madison High School football team fell short in its bid for its first win.
The Cruisers lost to Gahanna 20-13 in their OCC-Ohio Division opener Sept. 20 at home to drop to 0-4 overall. They were outscored by a combined 76-26 in their first two games before falling to Licking Heights 7-0 on Sept. 13.
"I'm not much into moral victories, although I know the kids can see that our system will work if we can execute for a full game," coach Bryan Schoonover said. "I think everyone can see the improvements we're making. However, at some point we've got to break through and get a win. We're working hard and we're going to keep hammering away at things and fixing our mistakes."
Next up for Groveport is an OCC-Ohio contest Friday, Sept. 27, at Grove City. The Dawgs lost to Reynoldsburg 21-10 in their league opener Sept. 20 to fall to 1-3 overall. Their win came against Findlay (38-10 on Sept. 6) and their other losses were to Hilliard Davidson (28-19 on Aug. 30) and Westerville South (17-14 on Sept. 13).
"They've played some good competition, but the first thing that stands out to me is their size," Schoonover said. "We're tiny compared to them. It's like David vs. Goliath size-wise. Their quarterback (Cameron Meece) is a great athlete who runs the option well and their fullback (Corey Williams) is a stud. Their defensive line is big, strong and can move. They're massive and mean. Their record is really deceiving."
Groveport's defense stopped Gahanna twice inside its 10-yard line in the first quarter, forcing the Lions to settle for a pair of field goals by Tanner Harding (25 and 26 yards).
The Cruisers took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tyren Jackson and stretched their lead to 13-6 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter when quarterback Austin Newman scored on a 10-yard run.
A little more than a minute later, Gahanna tied the game on a 54-yard pass from quarterback Ronald Robinson to wide receiver Vasean Davis. The Lions closed the scoring with a 10-yard run by Robinson with 5:58 left.
Groveport had two turnovers and was held to 180 total yards, all of which came on the ground on 38 carries. Newman was 0-for-6 passing with an interception.
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot by not sustaining drives," Schoonover said. "We're moving the ball well and then get three penalties in a row. Worse yet is getting penalties when we're in the red zone. We also had a bad snap on the second (extra-point attempt). We're making mistakes that we can't afford to make."
Markel Davis, a wide receiver, led Groveport with 57 yards rushing on three carries. Running back D'lante Smith had 56 yards on nine carries, followed by Newman with 44 on 11 carries and running back Mecca Swain with 35 on 14 carries.
Robinson had 93 yards rushing on 19 carries and was 13-for-22 passing for 112 yards to lead Gahanna.
"Tyren Jackson has been great at safety for us," Schoonover said. "He is a true football player who has the potential to play at the (Mid-American Conference) level. He's athletic and very rarely out of position. I'd say 99.9 percent of the time he's doing everything right. We're just sending his three-game tapes out to colleges now.
"Another guy who's playing well and making plays is Jordan Garrison. We moved him from fullback to linebacker and he's fast and athletic. He had a couple of sacks against Gahanna."
Girls soccer team notches second win
Freshman forward Brooke Sartin scored two goals to lead the girls soccer team to a 4-0 win over Centennial 4-0 on Sept. 19, ending a nine-game winless streak.
Senior forward Stephanie Siwicki and junior midfielder Jaida Singratsomboune also scored for the Cruisers, who were 2-8-1 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on Sept. 24.
"I think we were playing better for three games before we got the win and our confidence is improving," senior forward and captain Chelsea Johnson said. "The girls were ecstatic and we're feeling pretty good right now."
Groveport was outscored by a combined 31-6 during a six-game losing streak after beating Westland 4-2 in its season opener Aug. 20. The Cruisers played Tree of Life to a scoreless tie on Sept. 12 and lost to Teays Valley (2-1 on Sept. 14) and Newark (3-1 on Sept. 17) before beating Centennial.
Johnson lauded the defensive play of Paige Dersom, Tessa Warren, Kayla Maynard and Lily Coyer in front of goalkeeper Brooke Coyer during the Cruisers' recent four-game stretch in which they allowed five goals. She also said the defensive play of Singratsomboune and midfielder Anna Singratsomboune has improved.
"We're playing better and I think we have a chance to win a few more games," Johnson said. "We had some injuries earlier, but I think we're getting stronger."
Boys soccer team ends skid with tie
The boys soccer team snapped a seven-game losing streak with a scoreless tie against Newark on Sept. 17.
Groveport was 0-7-1 overall and 0-3-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on Sept. 24.
"(The game against Newark) was outstanding," said Tom Snyder, who recently replaced Ron Jones as coach. "The kids played like a team and hustled all the way through. They were playing pretty well, but they took it to another level when (junior midfielder) Jordan Spurling had a neck injury and we had to call 911. It was hard to celebrate much because everyone was so concerned about him."
Snyder expects Spurling to be sidelined for at least two weeks.
Snyder began the season as a volunteer junior varsity coach and varsity assistant under Jones, but took over the program after Jones, also a volunteer, resigned.
"We're starting five freshmen and they're all coming along well," Snyder said. "Two of them were great defensively. (Defenders) Robbie Sithixay and Dylan Snyder played very well and (junior goalie) Jacob Weakley had eight saves.
"Juniors Kris Henry and Blake Snyder did a good job controlling the midfield and it was good to get (forward/midfielder) Jacob Jones back from a leg injury. Unfortunately, we also lost (junior) striker Mohammed Al-Harbi for two weeks with a leg injury, so we got one back and lost two. But we're excited and we hope to build off that tie."