Football opener has lasting legacy
A longtime rivalry will have a new wrinkle after this season's opener Friday, Aug. 24.
The Johnstown-Monroe High School football team has played Granville since 1915 and in the opening game since 1991.
That season was the first after the Licking County League disbanded. The LCL begins anew next year, so the Blue Aces likely will drop into the league portion of the Johnnies' schedule.
"It's a fantastic game and a great way to open up the season," coach Mike Carter said. "There is usually a standing room-only crowd whenever these teams meet. This game was going on long before we were here and that speaks to the significance of the game."
Last season, the Johnnies won for the second consecutive season. They held off Granville 38-29 after beating the Blue Aces 41-14 in a game played at Licking Valley because of turf issues at Frank H. Chambers Stadium.
Despite winning seven of the past 11 meetings, the Johnnies trail in the series 57-36-4. The teams first played in 1915 -- twice. Johnstown won 26-0 then lost 13-0 two weeks later.
Other series facts, according to former Johnstown player and assistant coach Mark Thomas, include:
*The teams have played in all but four seasons -- 1916, 1928, 1929 and 1932.
*Johnstown and Granville played twice in four seasons -- 1915, 1917, 1919 and 1922.
*The Johnnies played only two games in 1917 during the Spanish flu epidemic, as most districts in central Ohio suspended classes. Both games were against the Blue Aces.
*The four ties came in 1921, 1924, 1940 and 1967.
*In 1936, Johnstown played Granville at Denison in the first night game for the Johnnies. The Blue Aces won 19-0.
Granville runs a spread offense led by senior David Fraley, who completed 122 of 206 passes for 1,969 yards with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions last season despite missing three games because of injury. He also rushed for 465 yards and three scores.
"They do an outstanding job with the system that they run," Carter said. "We'll have to come out ready to play, put pressure on them and have long drives to eat away at the clock."
Girls soccer team aims high
The girls soccer team returns nine starters from a squad that finished 10-7-2 a year ago after losing to Columbus Academy 7-0 in a Division III district semifinal. It was the second consecutive season the Johnnies lost to the Vikings in a district semifinal.
"This year it's district final or bust for us," said Andy Buck, who has been the only coach for the third-year program. "This team is capable of making it there. Our schedule prepares us for teams like Academy when we play the likes of Thomas Worthington, Olentangy Orange, Worthington Christian, (Zanesville) West Muskingum and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary."
The Johnnies return their top three scorers from last season in senior midfielder Taylor Ross (17 goals, 10 assists), sophomore forward Becca Gordon (14 goals, 6 assists) and senior forward Marissa Sheets (6 goals, 9 assists).
Other returning starters include senior midfielder Megan Gordon, junior defender Tanner Jakeway, junior goalkeeper Taylor Thomas, junior midfielder Paige Turner, sophomore defender Paige Cannon and sophomore defender Kerrigan Williams.
Rounding out the roster are senior Katie Corby (midfielder/defender), junior Rae Patterson (midfielder), sophomores Elizabeth Blenk (defender), Olivia McGee (midfielder) and Kiley Workman (forward) and freshmen Emily Cote (defender), Jasimine Donnelly (defender), Willow Dove (midfielder), Maddy Ross (midfielder/defender) Mariah Stephens (forward) and McKenna Thrash (forward).
"We have good offensive balance and are a very athletic group," said Buck, whose team plays as an independent. "We had some really talented seniors last year that will be tough to replace. They helped start the program and put in the extra work early to help make us successful.
"But we have strong classes with depth from top to bottom with a solid senior class, as well as a freshman class who know the basic skills as well as any class we have had."
The Johnnies open Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Orange and play Thursday, Aug. 23, at home against Heath. They travel to St. Vincent-St. Mary on Saturday, Aug. 25.
Young boys golf team talented
What a difference a couple days made for the boys golf team.
The Johnnies finished 18th (351) in the 23-team Watkins Memorial Invitational to open the season Aug. 13 at High Lands, behind champion Bexley (318).
Two days later, Johnstown won the 12-team Utica Invitational at Links at Echo Springs with a 314. Newark Catholic (320) was runner-up.
"After (shooting 351 at) Watkins (Memorial), I was going to be happy with a 330 or a 335 (at Links at Echo Springs)," said coach Chris Carlisle, who is in his 10th season leading the program. "We're awfully young and it could be a roller-coaster ride."
The Johnnies' lineup is comprised of four sophomores and two freshmen. The only returnee from last season is sophomore Paul Michel, who shot 96 in the opener and 86 in the Utica Invitational.
John Carlisle, the freshman son of coach Carlisle, shot a 75 in the Utica Invitational for the second-best score in the event behind medalist Derek Hamm of Heath, who had a 71.
The sophomores include Steven Thiel (95 at High Lands, 80 at Links at Echo Springs), Kaden Welch (84, 79) and Sam Wirth (99 at High Lands). Freshman Dalton Hastings had a 90 in the opener and an 80 in the Utica Invitational.
"Obviously we're inexperienced, but these kids have a lot going for them," coach Carlisle said. "I like their work ethic. John, Kaden, Sam, Stephen and Paul were all playing over the summer. They were on the course a lot."
On Aug. 16, the Johnnies finished second (360) behind Northridge (357) in the six-team MBC Preseason at Table Rock. Centerburg (391) was third followed by Utica (393), Danville (399) and Loudonville (485). East Knox and Fredericktown did not field teams.
Carlisle was medalist with a 79.
Last season, Johnstown finished ninth (358) of 12 teams in the Division II district tournament at River Greens. St. Clairsville won by a scorecard playoff over Watterson as both shot 326 to advance to state.
The Johnnies were the third and final team to qualify to district by shooting a 363, behind Watterson (333) and Hartley (347), in a sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire.
Johnstown tied Centerburg for the MBC title with 14 points in a numerical system based on scores in the preseason and postseason league tournaments as well as regular-season duals. Danville was third (12) followed by Utica (10) and Northridge (9). East Knox and Loudonville tied for sixth (2) and Fredericktown did not field a team.
Girls golf begins second season
The girls golf team returns two players from its inaugural season in senior Kourtnee Derflinger and sophomore Ashley Arnold.
Newcomers include junior Laiken Valentine and sophomore Courtney Fuller.
"Kourtnee, being a senior, has been playing a lot better and feels more comfortable out there with it being her second year," said coach Carlisle, who also led the program last year. "Ashley is more mature and she is more familiar with what needs to be done. She has a natural ability for the game."
The Johnnies opened Aug. 14 against Granville Christian at Clover Valley, but team scores were not kept as the Lions had only three players.
Johnstown, which plays an independent schedule, was the host team for the LCL Invitational on Aug. 17 at Kyber Run.
The Johnnies play Tuesday, Aug. 21, against Granville Christian at Clover Valley and Wednesday, Aug. 22, against Duncan Falls Philo at Fuller's Fairways.
Johnstown finished eighth (473) in last year's 13-team Division II sectional at Foxfire behind district-qualifiers Bexley (371), Columbus School for Girls (386), Granville (398), Wellington (416) and Jonathan Alder (435).