Winning four games wasn't a goal for the Grandview Heights High School football team, but the way the Bobcats finished the season was a source of encouragement for coach Jason Peters.
Grandview won its final two games to finish 4-6 overall and boost morale heading into the offseason.
"How many teams can say that they won the last two games they played in a season? Not many," said Peters, whose team closed the season by defeating Madison Plains 41-12 on Oct. 25 and Swanton 10-9 on Nov. 1. "That's something for us to be proud of and it's something to build on."
Grandview finished fifth (2-4) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind West Jefferson (6-0), Bexley (4-2), Columbus Academy (4-2) and Whitehall (3-3) and ahead of London (1-5) and Madison Plains (1-5).
Senior Luke Miller (TE/DE; 58 tackles, 17 for loss, 6 sacks) and junior Grant Varner (OL/DL; 92 tackles, 2 sacks) were first-team all-league.
Senior Sam Callison (OL/DL) and sophomore Rhodes Jump (RB/LB) were second-team all-league. Jump had 87 tackles and 462 yards rushing on 80 carries with six touchdowns.
Senior Tim Murphy (WR/DL/P; 19 catches, 352 yards, 3 touchdowns), junior Joe Pinney (RB/LB; 723 yards, 99 carries, 4 touchdowns) and junior Leo Readey (OL/LB/K; 75 tackles) were honorable mention all-league.
The Bobcats had six seniors in Callison, Noah King (OL/DL), Miller, Murphy, Phil Readey (RB/DL; 10 tackles for loss) and quarterback Nick Schopis (70-for-165 passing, 821 yards, 6 touchdowns, 10 interceptions).
"I started working with these six kids in middle school and in summer camps. They mean a lot," said Peters, who completed his seventh season. "We invested a lot of times with these kids and they invested a lot as well.
"Once that last game was over, it was a kick in the gut because of all of that hard work. (Losing seniors) is something that you never get used to because you have grown to love them over the last four years."
Junior Nick Maupin (RB/DB), sophomore Benton Bair (WR/LB), sophomore Glenn Cheney (WR/DB), sophomore Micah Miller (WR/DB; 10 catches, 101 yards), sophomore Andre Readey (QB), sophomore Thomas Stanley (OL/DL) and freshman Joey Landusky (DB) are other key players expected to return.
"One bright side of having a smaller senior class is that you have a lot of younger kids who get great experience," Peters said.
Evans earns third all-state honor
Senior Luke Evans finished his prep cross country career by winning league, district and regional titles before earning his third consecutive all-state honor.
In the Division III boys state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway, Evans finished eighth (16 minutes, 21.67 seconds) as the top 25 received all-state recognition. He placed 13th (16:10.92) in 2012 and 21st (16:26.78) in 2011.
Evans was one of three Grandview runners at state. Junior Eli Reed finished 55th (17:09.74) in the boys race and junior Ali Lachey was 27th (19:45.09) in the girls race.
"Getting two guys and Ali to state was great," said coach Brian Schoch, who completed his fifth season. "I'm really pleased with how they performed, and it's fun to be a part of that."
Evans won the regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North in 16:21.64 and Reed was 15th (17:07.57) as the top four teams and top 16 individuals in both the boys and girls races advanced to state.
Lachey was seventh (19:48.91) at regional as the girls team was fifth (136) behind champion Sugarcreek Garaway (68). Columbus School for Girls (113) earned the final state-qualifying berth.
Junior Madison Osborne (29th, 21:03.61) was next for Grandview, followed by senior Halli Bair (38th, 21:21.15), junior Emma Hecker (40th, 21:28.77), junior Emma Mihocik (62nd, 22:15.17), sophomore Emma Wheeler (66th, 22:24.5) and freshman Emma Berlin (71st, 22:53.16).
"The girls were able to get fifth at regional, missing state by one place," Schoch said. "They had a strong effort and had a great attitude."
Evans won the district title Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial in 16:00.11, but the boys squad finished seventh (189) behind champion Fredericktown (67) as the top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional.
Reed finished fifth (16:47.48) to advance. He was followed by junior Peter Mathes (41st, 18:10.13), freshman Zach Martin (71st, 18:57.71), junior Owen McCormick (75th, 19:02.35), freshman Ben Rehbeck (83rd, 19:23.31) and junior Josh Clark (86th, 19:35.63).
For the girls at district, Grandview was fourth (92) behind champion CSG (50) as Lachey was third (19:07.09).
Evans won the MSL-Ohio boys meet Oct. 12 at London Country Club in 16:30, as the Bobcats were third (66) behind Bexley (38) and Academy (58) and ahead of Whitehall (102), Worthington Christian (117) and London (140).
Lachey finished fourth (19:52) as the girls placed third (57) behind Academy (45) and Bexley (48) and ahead of London (85) and Worthington Christian (136).
Evans and Bair were the only seniors in the program.
"Luke and Halli were great and the backbone of the team," Schoch said. "They were both great leaders and will be missed quite a bit."
Sophomore Abby Uhrig and freshman Emma Amurgis rounded out the girls roster. Also on the boys team were juniors Jackson Bussey and John Faris and freshmen Caleb Akers, Ben Hecker, Jackson Spainhoward and Riley Whitfield.