Although his top two players from a year ago graduated, Hilliard Darby High School boys golf coach Brent Bower believes his team features more depth this season.
In the first round of the four-round OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Aug. 7 at Turnberry, the Panthers shot a 341 to finish sixth behind champion Dublin Jerome (292).
Senior C.J. Martin led the Panthers with an 84, followed by junior Alex Herman (85), senior Sean Delaney and junior Ethan West (86) and junior Jordan Coppess (88).
Bower said it was the first time each member of his team shot below 90 in league play during his five seasons as coach.
Senior Dan Lewis and junior Andy Rice round out the team, which last year was led by 2013 graduates Joo Lee and Jimi Booker.
"We're actually going to be a deeper team this year than we were last year," Bower said. "We're deeper probably one through 11 or 12 than we've ever been in our program as a whole."
Jerome, the two-time defending Division I state champion, was followed in the OCC-Cardinal opener by Westerville Central (317), Westerville South (322), Dublin Scioto (332), Westerville North (338), Darby, Bradley (343) and Canal Winchester (453).
Darby was sixth (354) in the second league tournament Aug. 12 at Granville Golf Course behind champion Jerome (299).
Canal Winchester has replaced Worthington Kilbourne, which moved to the OCC-Capital.
Jerome has won five state titles in its nine seasons.
"Jerome wants to get their third state title in a row and the three Westervilles are always tough," Bower said. "Bradley is always decent. Scioto struggled a little bit last season, but I'm sure they will be better. It's tough. You really have to put your best foot forward."
Darby finished sixth (343) in the 15-team Marysville Invitational on Aug. 8 at Darby Creek behind champion Marysville (319), as Martin led the Panthers with an 80.
Lee, who will play at Xavier University, shared medalist honors with Lancaster's Trevor Cohen (72) in last season's Division I sectional at Darby Creek, but did not compete at district because of an American Junior Golf Association commitment.
"As good as Joo was, he was only one person," Bower said. "As much as we loved Joo being on our team, and we loved the kid and he was a great teammate, it's going to be interesting. It's only us now. We can't rely on anybody else. Each kid has to do their job."
Davidson coach likes team's depth
Davidson coach Monte Rhoden believes his team has ample depth, having returned nine letterwinners.
"We're looking forward to a challenging and fun season with good depth and an interesting mix of both veterans and young players," Rhoden said.
The Wildcats opened by finishing third (319) in the 12-team North Union Invitational on Aug. 6 at Glenross behind champion Caledonia River Valley (307).
Senior Jacob Newton led Davidson with a 78. Last season, he had a team-best 81 average and was third-team all-OCC-Central and honorable mention all-district.
Davidson began OCC-Central tournament play by finishing sixth (336) on Aug. 7 at Granville Golf Course. Sophomore Josh Adkins had an 80, followed by senior Josh Stimmel (81), junior Nick Schad (82) and Newton (93).
Dublin Coffman was first (296), followed by Upper Arlington (310), Olentangy Liberty (322), Marysville (331), Thomas Worthington (332), Davidson, Central Crossing (348) and Westland (467).
Davidson was fourth (321) in the second league tournament Aug. 12 at Apple Valley behind champion Coffman (294).
The Wildcats were sixth (324) in the 14-team Fairfield Federal Invitational on Aug. 8 at Turnberry behind champion Pickerington North (289), led by Schad (77) and Newton (80).
Other golfers are seniors Chandler Fullenkamp, Alec Grimm, Mitchell Lince and Andrew Maughan, junior Andy Munson and freshman Jack Rubin.
"What talent we have is only relevant to the level of consistency we are able to maintain," Rhoden said.
Bradley features balanced squad
Bradley coach Russ Edgington was pleased with his team's overall balance as it opened the season.
During qualifying play before the season, the top six golfers were separated by three strokes, Edgington said.
"There's going to be a lot of competition from within, which is good," he said. "Overall, we're pretty young. We have one senior and I'm counting on Cody (Storch) to provide a lot of leadership and have a good year as well."
The Jaguars opened by finishing seventh (343) in the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 7. Junior Noah Fernandez led Bradley with an 80, followed by Storch (84), freshman Capell Miller (88), junior Damon Birkhead (90) and junior Cory Vawter (97).
Bradley tied Scioto for third (341) in the second OCC-Cardinal tournament.
Bradley was third (330) in the Marysville Invitational on Aug. 8 as Fernandez and Storch each shot 79.
Sophomore Joe Ingstrum rounds out the team.
"I anticipate this year having a lot of tough decisions on my part in terms of playing time, and I anticipate a lot of competition within the team," Edgington said. "We're anticipating a good year because I'm confident in our players, I'm confident in our depth that we have. "We're in for a good season."