Fifth-year coach Rob Schmeling is looking for a balanced effort from the Hilliard Darby High School boys lacrosse team this season.
Last year, the Panthers finished 7-11 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division and defeated Bradley 7-6 in a play-in game in the Division I Southwest Region tournament before losing to second-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 18-5 in the first round.
The tournament win was their first since 2005.
"At this time of the season, our strength is being fairly balanced," said Schmeling, whose team opens Wednesday, April 2, at home against Dublin Scioto in an OCC-Ohio game. "We have several key returners at many positions."
Darby, which lost only one player from a year ago to graduation in defender Alex Martin, has 16 returnees, including three who earned all-league honors last season.
Junior attacker Max Weese was named second-team all-league, junior attacker Ryan Rampi was honorable mention all-league and sophomore midfielder Mason Schmeling was second-team all-league for face-offs.
According to coach Schmeling, other key returnees are senior Skyler Link (defender), juniors Kaden Calliari (defender), Jordan Coppess (goalkeeper), Blake Skinner (midfielder) and Chris Yeager (defender) and sophomore Tristen Rogers (defender).
Also back are seniors Josh Cundiff (attacker) and Caleb Ervin (midfielder), juniors Andrew Deaner (midfielder), Simon McDaniels (midfielder) and Lucas Wende (midfielder) and sophomores Zach Hooker (defender) and Kelly Logan (goalie).
Rounding out the team are seniors Billy Morales (defender) and Zach Rudy (defender), juniors Brock Arocha (midfielder) and Aiden Moore (defender) and sophomores Brock Brashear (attacker) and Ethan Ritchey (midfielder).
"An area that we need work on this season putting 'team first,'" coach Schmeling said. "We will need to do that both on and off the field."
Darby tied Bradley and Gahanna for fifth in the OCC-Ohio last season, behind Olentangy (6-0), Olentangy Liberty (5-1), Olentangy Orange (4-2) and New Albany (3-3). Liberty and Olentangy moved to the OCC-Buckeye and were replaced by Marysville and Scioto.
Large senior class leading Wildcats
Davidson has 15 seniors, including 12 who played last season, when it finished 8-11 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Buckeye and lost to Loveland 18-5 in a play-in game in the Division I Southwest Region tournament.
Among the senior returnees are defender Spencer Cline (second-team all-region), goalie Seth McCall (second-team all-league) and midfielder William Backenstoe (honorable mention all-league). They are sharing captain duties with two other senior returnees in midfielder Brett Annis and defender Tanner Calland.
"The strength of this team is its senior leadership," said second-year coach Kyle Olson, whose team opens Wednesday, April 2, at Dublin Coffman in an OCC-Buckeye game. "Our captains are doing an excellent job of leading the team on and off the field."
The other senior returnees are attackers Matt Dugan and Drew Shaffer, midfielders Parker Foard, Joe Szabo and Jason Weihl and defenders Edward Powers and Chad Rice, who has committed to Baldwin Wallace University.
"The 15 seniors have done an outstanding job the first few weeks and are taking this program in the right direction," Olson said. "Like any team, we need to improve on the little things like stick skills and groundballs."
Also back for Davidson, which has 18 returnees, are juniors Nick Jerger (midfielder), Andrew St. Clair (defender), Ian Timan (goalie) and Matt Wayman (defender) and sophomores Scott Brooks (attacker) and Zach Nolty (midfielder).
Rounding out the team are seniors Matt Phoung (defender), Jacob Seeds (midfielder) and Ryan Snavley (attacker), juniors Mitchell Joslin (attacker) and Henry Rozenman (midfielder), sophomores Simo Huhtanen (defender), Jacob Myers (attacker) and Matt Riley (midfielder) and freshmen Matt Blevins (midfielder), Kent Hummell (defender), David St. Clair (attacker) and James Vetter (midfielder).
Davidson placed sixth in the OCC-Buckeye last year, behind 2013 Division I state champion Upper Arlington (6-0), Worthington Kilbourne (5-1), Dublin Jerome (4-2), Thomas Worthington (3-3) and Dublin Coffman (2-4) and ahead of Scioto (0-6). Scioto moved to the OCC-Ohio and was replaced by Liberty and Olentangy.
Jaguars coach wants players going all out
Third-year Bradley coach Andy Buck knows his team will have to put forth a solid effort throughout the season if it is to improve on last year, when it finished 3-14 overall and a 1-5 in the OCC-Ohio and lost to Darby 7-6 in a play-in game in the Division I Southwest Region tournament.
"One of the most difficult things to do is to practice every day like you're playing in a championship," said Buck, whose team opened March 26 at Buckeye Valley. "Taking a day off or going through the motions is easy, but you have to be determined and have a constant commitment to excellence if you are going to reach your goals."
The Jaguars have 14 returnees, including senior attacker Connor McDunn, senior midfielder Chris Apollonio, junior goalie Jake Angelo and sophomore attacker Simon Ziccardi.
Last season, McDunn had 33 goals and Apollonio and Ziccardi scored 18 and 12, respectively. Angelo totaled 139 saves.
Also back are seniors Evan Barton (goalie), Brandon Cote (defender), Mikael Perez (defender) and Jacob Pugh (defender), juniors Jerrod East (midfielder), Cole Gillfillan (defender), Evan Lewis (midfielder) and Jordan Veil (midfielder) and sophomores Tristan Flannery (midfielder) and Drake Stephens (midfielder).
Rounding out the team are seniors Jonathan Ely (midfielder), Jason Kendall (midfielder) and Grant Rogers (attacker), juniors Jonathan Baird (midfielder), Jason Bubenchik (defender), Chris Davis (attacker), Jake Swank (defender) and Cory Vawter (midfielder) and sophomores Robert Humphreys (attacker), Luke Murrin (goalie), Daniel Stuhldreher (attacker) and Tanner Warchal (defender).
"We have a great class of seniors returning this year," Buck said. "We have high expectations and we're aiming for the stars."