Before the Columbus Academy football team left Heath on Oct. 9, coach Mark Barren issued his team some hope. The Vikings needed it after they lost their first MSL-Ohio Division game to the Bulldogs 47-27.

Before the Columbus Academy football team left Heath on Oct. 9, coach Mark Barren issued his team some hope. The Vikings needed it after they lost their first MSL-Ohio Division game to the Bulldogs 47-27.

"I told them if they don't lose again, you will have at least a tie for the MSL-Ohio title," Barren said. "That became our goal after that game."

The following week, Academy defeated Bexley 31-10 for the first time in three years. Last Friday, Academy beat Licking Valley 47-14 for the first time in school history.

And a win Friday at Whitehall would give the Vikings at least a share of their first MSL-Ohio title.

"Anytime you have a team that's an older team, you're going to have very good leadership," Barren said. "We have 12 seniors and a number of good juniors. They've been through great wins and some tough losses. They know how to handle the ups and downs that go with any game or with any season. They've done a good job regrouping after the Heath loss."

Academy is 7-2 overall and tied with Granville at 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio, ahead of Newark Catholic and Heath at 4-2, Licking Valley at 3-3, Bexley at 2-4, Whitehall at 1-5 and Lakewood at 0-6.

An outright title is still in play for Academy as Granville plays host to Newark Catholic on Friday. Yet Barren is not looking past Whitehall.

Last Saturday, Whitehall lost to Newark Catholic 36-8 to fall to 2-7 overall.

"They have some good athletes," Barren said. "It's just a matter of them playing consistent. You watch some plays and you're like, 'Wow, look at that.' But then, they can't sustain that level of play."

Whitehall defeated Linden McKinley 13-8 on Sept. 4 before losing five consecutive games until a 13-12 victory over winless Lakewood on Oct. 16.

"We have to be ready to play," Barren said. "If you look at scores, some are lopsided and then all of a sudden there is a game that makes you see how much they've really improved."

Whitehall quarterback Taylor Hutchison threw two touchdown passes against Lakewood of 11 and 44 yards. Against Newark Catholic, the Rams' defense allowed Green Wave quarterback Kevin Cox to finish 14-for-19 passing for 200 yards and four touchdowns.

That's good news for Academy quarterback Josh Hill, whose services were not heavily relied upon last Friday. The Vikings had 458 yards of offense against Licking Valley with 323 coming on the ground thanks to Academy's trio of backs -- Austin Peterman, Preston Pearson and Jeff May.

May's night was especially efficient. He finished with 45 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns on three carries. Peterman and Pearson added rushing touchdowns and Hill had a 61-yard touchdown pass to Jordon Hoffman, highlighting Academy's 21-point third quarter.

•The girls tennis team's defense of the Division II OTCA team title ended last Sunday at Ohio State.

Academy lost in a semifinal match against Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 3-0.

Walsh Jesuit advanced to beat Lexington 3-1 for the team title.

Academy entered the team final four after failing to qualify an individual for the state tournament last Friday and Saturday at Ohio State. It was the first time the Vikings were not represented at the state tournament in seven seasons.

Last Sunday, Academy did not have its regular lineup because doubles player Sri Kundur was sidelined with pneumonia. Freshman Annie Lavin, who did not play a varsity match all season, replaced Kundur.

"Even if Sri would have been there, Walsh had too much in that first match," coach Jeff Warstler said. "It was their day. They got off to a quick start, but in the last 20 minutes we made a run. Neha (Patel) was ahead 5-3 in her match, Nisha (Nataraj) was 4-all in the second set and Lindsay (Hughes) was at split set. There was a glimmer, but hats off to Walsh. They were outstanding."

Academy was able to battle back against Indian Hill 3-1 to finish third. Academy beat Indian Hill by the same score last season to win the team title.

"I was real proud of the kids," Warstler said. "They came back and played hard in that second match for third place. They got after it."


At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedule for the Academy boys soccer, boys and girls cross country, football, girls field hockey, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS SOCCER

Last Saturday -- Defeated Gahanna Christian 5-1 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Last Wednesday -- Played Madison Christian in a district semifinal. The winner will play Saturday at Dublin Jerome in a district final against Grandview or Wellington. A regional semifinal is Tuesday at Wellington against Worthington Christian, Fisher Catholic, Bloom-Carroll or Fairbanks.

Of note: The Vikings were 8-5-4 before last Wednesday.

CROSS COUNTRY

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished 11th (251) at the Division III district meet at Watkins Memorial won by Liberty Union (46). Jon Michael Hilsheimer advanced to the regional meet by finishing fifth (17:30.10); Girls: Finished fifth (109) at the Division III, section 2 meet at Watkins Memorial won by Galion Northmor (49). Margaret Coons advanced to the regional meet by finishing 15th (21:57.68). Saturday -- At Pickerington North at regional meet

FOOTBALL

*Last Friday -- Def. Licking Valley 47-14 *Friday -- At Whitehall

Of note: The Vikings are 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio.

FIELD HOCKEY

Last Monday -- Played Dublin Scioto in the second round of the state qualifying tournament. Last Wednesday -- Played Toledo Ottawa Hills/Lancaster in district semifinal. The winner will play Saturday at Scioto in a district final against Thomas Worthington/Granville or Worthington Kilbourne/Olentangy Liberty

Of note: The Vikings were 9-2-1 before last Wednesday.

GIRLS SOCCER

Oct. 21 -- Def. Wellington 3-1 in the second round of the Division II district tournament Last Saturday -- Lost to Jonathan Alder 5-1 in the third round of the district tournament.

Of note: The Vikings finished 12-6.

GIRLS TENNIS

Last Sunday -- Lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 3-0 and def. Cincinnati Indian Hill 3-1 to finish third at the Division II OTCA team tournament at Ohio State.

Of note: The Vikings finished 18-6.

VOLLEYBALL

Last Saturday -- Lost to fourth-seeded Newark Catholic 25-10, 25-17, 25-13in the second round of the Division III district tournament.

Of note: The Vikings finished 1-19.

*MSL-Ohio contest