After going 10-0 in the regular season for the first time in program history and reaching the Division V playoffs a year ago, the Grandview Heights High School football team had to deal with the injury bug.
The Bobcats finished 5-5 overall, but coach Jason Peters said the team's hardships could be a growing experience for the players expected to return next season.
"It was a season with a lot of adversity and the kids showed a lot of resiliency," said Peters, who completed his sixth season. "They did a nice job of staying focused and working to get better every week.
"The big thing was injuries. I don't think we played a game at full strength. We lost our fullback (senior) Nick Tittel in a scrimmage and it built from there. Some years you get bit by the injury bug. That's just part of football."
The Bobcats finished fifth (3-4) in the MSL-Cardinal Division, behind Licking Heights (7-0), Liberty Union (6-1), West Jefferson (5-2) and Harvest Prep (4-3) and ahead of Fisher Catholic (2-5), Berne Union (1-6) and Millersport (0-7).
The Bobcats had 12 seniors, including two-way lineman Andy Treasure, who was first-team all-district and all-league.
Senior wide receiver Payton Jones (second-team all-district) caught 30 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 458 yards and six scores on 48 carries and had two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Senior Chase Douglass, a two-year starter at center, was honorable mention all-district.
Senior Tyler Mosier caught 19 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 200 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. Senior Luke Snider had six receptions for 40 yards and rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
"Our seniors were leaders, and they were a big part of what helped us be who we are," Peters said. "They were a big part of what we did last year, and they were the identity we had this year."
The Bobcats expect to return several key players, including junior quarterback Nick Schopis, who was 105-for-222 passing for 1,271 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also would be the top returning rusher with 291 yards and four touchdowns on 66 carries.
Top receivers expected back are juniors Tim Murphy (TE; 15 catches, 225 yards) and Myshon Price (11 catches, 226 yards, 2 touchdowns). Murphy was second-team all-district as a punter with an average of 36.5 yards per attempt.
Junior linebacker Luke Miller was honorable mention all-district. He also caught four passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns and ran seven times for 33 yards.
Sophomore running back Joe Pinney rushed for 182 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries.
"We have a lot of experience and skill kids coming back," Peters said. "We will lose a lot of linemen on both sides of the ball, but we do have a lot of kids coming back with a lot of receivers and our tight end."
Cross country teams reached state meet
The boys and girls cross country teams set a standard at Grandview as both competed in the Division III state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
According to coach Brian Schoch, it was the first time the school had boys and girls teams in the same sport qualify for state in the same season.
"It's always good when both teams make it to state, but we really had a good postseason in general," said Schoch, who completed his fourth season. "The girls won both (MSL-Cardinal) and district titles and the boys were runners-up in the conference and at district, then both teams made it to state."
The boys finished 15th (333) of 16 teams at state, behind champion Attica Seneca East (101). They were led by junior Luke Evans, who took 13th (16 minutes, 10.92 seconds) to earn all-state honors with a top-25 finish.
Senior Chase Gage finished 82nd (17:16.38), followed by junior Josh Smith (114th, 17:55.21), sophomore Peter Mathes (127th, 18:20.77), sophomore Eli Reed (128th, 18:22.49), sophomore Jon Faris (142nd, 20:32.38) and sophomore Owen McCormick (143rd, 21:02.82).
It was the fourth consecutive sports season Smith advanced to state. He qualified in cross country, swimming and diving and track and field last school year.
The girls were 14th (292) of 16 teams at state, behind champion Liberty Center (101).
Sophomore Ali Lachey (46th, 19:40.24) led the Bobcats, followed by sophomore Madison Osborne (64th, 20:00.01), junior Halli Bair (94th, 20:49.6), sophomore Emma Hecker (97th, 20:59.32), freshman Emma Wheeler (120th, 21:46.16) and sophomore Emma Mihocik (141st, 24:34.58).
At regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, both the boys and girls teams finished fourth to secure the final qualifying spots for state.
The boys made a second consecutive trip to state by scoring 145 points at regional, five fewer than fifth-place Caldwell in a 15-team field. Evans (seventh, 16:57.06) led Grandview, followed by Reed (33rd, 17:55.17), Gage (35th, 18:01.68), Smith (43rd, 18:410.46), Mathes (65th, 18:42.26), Faris (99th, 20:04.63) and sophomore Josh Clark (112th, 21:23.63).
The girls scored 110 points in the 15-team regional to easily outdistance fifth-place Galion Northmor (138) for their first state berth since 2010. Lachey (15th, 20:02.89) led the Bobcats, followed by Osborne (17th, 20:11.9), Bair (28th, 20:45.19), Hecker (32nd, 21:05.26), Wheeler (65th, 22:23.93) and Mihocik (111th, 25:41.98).
The girls team finished first (45) in the district 2 race Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial. Lachey (fourth, 20:15) led the Bobcats, followed by Osborne (fifth, 20:49.83), Bair (sixth, 21:01.14), Hecker (11th, 21:37.15), Wheeler (21st, 22:28.16) and Mihocik (48th, 25:36.47).
The boys team finished second (77) in the district 1 race behind Liberty Union (44). Evans (first, 16:59.41) led Grandview, followed by Reed (12th, 17:41.57), Gage (15th, 17:53.94), Smith (21st, 18:11.42), Mathes (28th, 18:41.05), Faris (53rd, 19:53.85) and McCormick (63rd, 21:03.48).
In the MSL-Cardinal race Oct. 13 at Liberty Union Middle School, the girls team won (28) ahead of Fisher Catholic (75), Liberty Union (81), Licking Heights (82), Berne Union (96) and Millersport (116). Lachey was first (20:23), Bair was second (21:16.8) and Hecker was fourth (21:31.8).
The boys team finished second (34) in the league meet behind Liberty Union (29) and ahead of Fisher Catholic (74), Licking Heights (93) and Millersport (130). Evans was first (16:50.8), Gage was fourth (17:24) and Reed was fifth (17:30.3).
"(Gage) was the only senior, so that means we were still relatively young on both teams," Schoch said. "It's definitely a positive thing having that many people coming back."