The Groveport Madison High School football team heads into its OCC-Ohio Division contest against Pickerington Central on Friday, Oct. 25, looking for its first home win in more than two years.
The Cruisers haven't won on their home field since Sept. 9, 2011, when they beat Dublin Jerome 20-13. They have lost 12 consecutive games at home and are 0-4 on their home field this season, having lost to Walnut Ridge (28-6 on Sept. 6), Licking Heights (7-0 on Sept. 13), Gahanna (20-13 on Sept. 20) and Lancaster (20-14 on Oct. 4).
Groveport fell to 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio with a 35-7 loss at Pickerington North on Oct. 18, and Central is 5-2 and 4-1.
"Central has tremendous athletes across the board and they are a perennial power," coach Bryan Schoonover said. "They run to the ball and hit the quarterback. They love to pressure you. They also do a great job with their personnel packaging and subbing and that comes from having extreme depth. Coach (Jay) Sharrett finds kids to do what they ask in their system year in and year out."
Groveport amassed 564 yards rushing Oct. 11 in a 52-35 win over host Newark -- which fell to 0-8 with a 35-12 loss to Central on Oct. 18 -- but was limited to 128 yards on the ground by North.
The Panthers scored on their first possession and capitalized on a Groveport fumble to take a 14-0 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Cruisers cut their deficit to 14-7 when wide receiver Markel Davis scored on a 78-yard pass from backup quarterback Derrell Gibbs late in the first quarter.
"(Quarterback) Mecca Swain tweaked a foot and we held him out for precautionary reasons, but he returned later and we used him at running back," Schoonover said. "I thought Derrell played well. He hit Markel up the seam when we ran a wheel route. Davis played well and I thought (running back and defensive back) Tyren Jackson ran well and was strong in the secondary. (Cornerback) Dayrel Billingsley and (safety) C.J. Pound also did well in the secondary, which is where we have experience and are reliable."
Jackson ran 11 times for 77 yards against North, as Groveport had 246 total yards.
North, which improved to 8-0 and 5-0 and was ranked ninth in the Division I state poll last week, scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 28-7 lead into halftime. The Panthers finished with 276 yards rushing, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
Season ends for girls soccer team
The girls soccer team lost to second-seeded Pickerington North 9-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct 17 to finish 3-13-1 overall.
Despite the Cruisers' record, volunteer coach Mark Coyer believes the season was a success.
"These girls were successful because they hung in there and did more than what most players, teams and schools have ever been asked to do," said Coyer, whose team had a first-round bye and was seeded 36th in the district. "They accomplished goals by overcoming a number of difficult detours to their season. Just by competing, they kept their spot in the OCC for future teams here.
"If we didn't compete this year or for a few years, maybe the OCC picks up another school. How long would it take to get back into the league? These girls got to compete. They got to get involved in the community with all of the fundraisers we had to have to become a club team. They got to see how hard work pays off and they learned how to overcome obstacles. They should be proud of what they were able to accomplish."
After a $5.5-million levy failed May 7, the school district was forced to make cuts. Groveport is funding one boys sport and one girls sport each season over the course of the school year. In the fall season, football and girls volleyball were funded.
The other sports are deemed club sports and have to be self-sufficient. The coaches for club teams are volunteers.
"Our deadline to hand in money was July 16 and, by the time our treasurer got back from vacation and told us exactly how much we needed, we had less than a month to raise $6,000," Coyer said. "The parents jumped in to help organize and the girls got busy with car washes, raffles, yard sales, selling T-shirts that had business ads on the back, candy sales and donation booths and buckets at many businesses. The community rallied behind our kids."
The Cruisers went 0-7 in the OCC-Ohio to finish eighth, behind North (7-0), Grove City (5-2), Pickerington Central (5-2), Gahanna (4-2-1), Reynoldsburg (3-3-1), Lancaster (2-5) and Newark (1-6).
"We obviously were hoping to do better, but we finished with the same exact record we had last year," Coyer said. "I really feel like we played better than we did last year. We kept our shape and we didn't just kick the ball down the field and chase. Our soccer skills improved and we moved the ball better."
The Cruisers' wins came against Westland (4-2 on Aug. 20), Centennial (4-0 on Sept. 19) and Madison Christian (6-0 on Oct. 10) and they played Tree of Life to a scoreless tie Sept. 12.
Groveport loses four seniors in Chelsea Johnson (forward), Ariel Kelber (goalkeeper), Kayla Maynard (midfielder) and Stephanie Siwicki (forward).
"I'm so happy they had the chance to play as seniors rather than missing out on their last season playing," Coyer said. "That would've been heartbreaking. They did a great job."
Seven starters are expected to return in juniors Lily Coyer (defender), Paige Dersom (sweeper), Erin Hale (stopper) and Jaida Singratsomboune (midfielder) and sophomores Kelsey Cottrill (midfielder), Brooke Coyer (goalkeeper) and Anna Singratsomboune (midfielder).
Also expected back after getting significant playing time are freshmen Brooke Sartin (forward) and Sydney Singratsomboune (defender).
Volleyball team falls in tourney opener
The girls volleyball team saw its season end with a 25-17, 25-17, 25-8 loss to seventh-seeded Lancaster in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15.
Groveport, which was seeded 32nd, finished 7-16.
The Cruisers went 0-3 against Lancaster this season. They were swept by the Golden Gales in OCC-Ohio play, falling 23-25, 25-9, 25-14, 25-17 on Sept. 3 and 25-15, 25-15, 25-17 on Sept. 26.
Groveport was hoping to win a match in the district tournament for the second season in a row.
Last season, the Cruisers snapped a nine-year drought by beating Westland 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 in the first round before losing to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 25-12, 25-14, 25-18 in the second round.
Boys soccer team loses to Cardinals
The boys soccer team lost to 10th-seeded host Thomas Worthington 5-1 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19 to finish 1-12-2.
The Cruisers, who were seeded 45th and had a first-round bye, posted their only victory in their regular-season finale, beating Madison Christian 4-0 on Oct. 10.