Comets working hard to improve
As the Central Crossing High School football team goes through its first complete offseason under coach Chris Harr, enthusiasm may never have been higher.
"Definitely kids are excited," said Harr, whose team was 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Central Division last season. "We have a lot of young kids in the weight room and a lot of kids coming over from the middle school. It's the most kids I've seen coming over this early."
Before Harr was hired last April 22, the Comets didn't have a structured weight-room program. After last season's struggles, it wasn't necessarily the losing record that Harr wanted to change - it was his team's physical stature.
Since the Comets didn't play in 2009 because of a school-district levy failure, many of the team's regular players last season were in middle school the last time they played organized football. The Comets' starting quarterback was sophomore Tory Clark.
"The experience was a big thing, but also just our overall strength and conditioning," Harr said. "Last year we had so many injuries week to week. If they would have had a whole offseason in a weight room that might have been different."
Former Ohio State and Dallas Cowboys running back Jamar Martin is in charge of the Comets' offseason strength and conditioning program. As he handles that, Harr is working to bring two more coaches on staff. The Comets are in need of a freshman team coach and they also are looking to add another offensive coach.
Some of the players also go to workout combines, but most dedicate their offseason football activity to the weight room.
To help motivate the players in the weight room, the Comets have had some alumni spend time with the team. Former defensive lineman Derek Jones, a 2010 graduate who is now at Kent State, has talked to the players about what the weight room is like at the college level.
"It's really just all weight room," Harr said of the offseason. "A lot of our kids are going to the different combines or what not to test what they can do. Really (the offseason is) just getting your body strong."
Injuries affected Central Crossing at several positions last season, especially quarterback. Senior Jordan Keaton, junior Dylan Simpson and Clark each played quarterback in the first four weeks.
Clark eventually took over full time, passing for 720 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 514 yards. Keaton is a major piece for the Comets to replace. In addition to playing quarterback for a game, Keaton was a defensive back, running back and receiver, and he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. He also was the holder on extra points.
Both of Central Crossing's wins were against other South-Western City Schools teams. The Comets beat Franklin Heights 34-20 and Westland 33-12.
The victory over Westland was Central Crossing's only league win. They finished seventh in the OCC-Central at 1-6, ahead of Westland (0-7). Those two finished behind Hilliard Davidson (7-0), Dublin Coffman (6-1), Hilliard Darby (5-2), Upper Arlington (4-3), Worthington Kilbourne (3-4) and Thomas Worthington (2-5).