For the first time, the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team is headed to a second consecutive postseason berth in Division IV.
The Johnnies will be making their sixth postseason appearance, with all before last season (2002, 2006-08) coming in Division V.
"I'm excited for the kids," said coach Mike Carter, whose team was 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the MBC before playing Northridge on Oct. 26. "Every team sets the goal of making the postseason and it's great when you get to accomplish that goal. Getting the privilege to play in the state playoffs is something they will always remember."
Last season, the Johnnies lost to eventual champion Creston Norwayne 59-28 in a Division IV state semifinal. It was the program's first state semifinal appearance.
Johnstown won its first regional title by defeating Coshocton 27-24 in the Region 15 final. The Johnnies defeated Ironton 34-7 in a regional semifinal and Gnadenhutten Indian Valley 42-21 in the opening round.
"Many of our players were there last season and they learned how much hard work can pay off," Carter said. "They have come together as a team and know that if you work hard, you will have the opportunity to leave a legacy at the school and with the program."
The Johnnies defeated visiting East Knox 31-21 on Oct. 19, as sophomore running back Cody Farley rushed for 147 yards with a 5-yard touchdown on 32 carries and senior quarterback Tyler Thompson ran for 99 yards with a 1-yard touchdown on 23 carries.
Senior fullback Adam Carter added 34 yards rushing and touchdowns of 11 and 4 yards on eight carries as all 296 yards for the Johnnies came on the ground.
Through nine games, Farley had 1,169 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 200 carries, Thompson had 887 yards with 13 touchdowns on 117 carries and Adam Carter had 441 yards and six touchdowns on 84 carries.
Senior linebacker Corbin Grassman led the team with 85 tackles and four sacks, and junior defensive lineman Clayton Bullard had 74 tackles. Senior defensive back Nick Sadinsky had 68 tackles and four interceptions, Thompson had three interceptions as a defensive back and senior linebacker Daniel Mark Almendinger had 50 tackles, one sack and three fumble recoveries.
Runners end season at district
The cross country teams competed in Division II district meets Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial.
The Johnnies failed to finish in the top four to advance to regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. They also didn't have any individuals finish in the top 16 to advance.
The boys competed in district 1 but did not have enough runners for a team score as Granville (16), Whitehall (91), Bexley (93) and DeSales (126) advanced.
Sophomore Kaleb Walker finished 39th in 19 minutes, 31.09 seconds, followed by sophomore Stephen Harper (57th, 20:49.43) and sophomore Kaleb Matoszkia (65th, 21:23.09).
The girls finished ninth (242) in the 14-team district race behind regional-qualifiers Granville (41), Bexley (109), Caledonia River Valley (115) and London (147). Competing were freshman Grace Mast (20th, 21:48.47), junior McCalah Mast (22:27.71), senior Jessica Turner (38th, 22:47.45), senior Taylor Tackett (71st, 24:40.5) and freshman Jennifer Miller (117th, 32:57.13).
"We've gotten faster over the course of the season," said coach Patrick Helgerman, who completed his first season. "Taylor Tackett looked to be a 28(-minute) runner for us and she really improved her times."
On Oct. 13 in the MBC meet at Kokosing Reservoir, the boys did not have enough runners for a team score as Fredericktown (29) won. Walker (13th, 18:53.5), Matoszkia (27th, 21:23.7) and Harper (28th, 21:44.9) competed.
"Kaleb Walker is one of the best examples of athletic improvement over the season," Helgerman said. "Before the season, he had never broken 20 minutes, but he ran in the 18s at the league race."
The girls team also did not have enough runners for a team score in the MBC meet won by Fredericktown (25). McCalah Mast (seventh, 21:55.6), Turner (ninth, 22:46.7) and Tackett (19th, 26:00.7) competed.
Tackett and Turner were the only seniors on either team.
"We didn't name captains because the teams were so small, but Jessica Turner really stepped to the forefront in that regard," Helgerman said. "This was her team and she really embraced that role.
"Taylor Tackett was our head cheerleader. It was impossible to get her down. If you need a lift, talk to her for a couple of minutes and you can't help but feel better."
Also expected back is junior Madison Blair, who battled shin splints throughout the season.
Helgerman said offseason workouts were limited because he was not hired until a few weeks before the first meet.
"They did some light work (in the summer), but because there was so much doubt about whether they would have the season, it was hard for them to get the motivation to get out and run," he said. "I'm going to start in December to work with distance runners to get them ready for track season. Then, as soon as school is out, we want to make sure to get things ready for next fall.
"One thing we need to do is make sure we do a little better recruiting, especially at the middle school. We need to start building this up with the younger kids."
Boys soccer team
grew down stretch
The boys soccer team finished 4-11-2, losing at fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 7-1 in the first round of the Division III district tournament Oct. 17.
It was the only loss in October for the Johnnies, who were 3-0-2 in their five previous games.
Johnstown played an independent schedule and did not have a senior.
"We didn't spend a lot of time concerning ourselves with the fact we had no seniors because simply having seniors doesn't necessarily equate to a great team," said coach Chris Turner, who completed his first season. "You need great leadership, quality experience and skilled players with heart. In that way, I am more than pleased with what we have and everybody is back next year. That's what counts and that's what we focused on."
Sophomore midfielder Travis Higgins had nine goals and three assists, and junior forward Charles Benton had five goals and one assist. Freshman midfielder Collin Peterson had three goals and six assists, and sophomore midfielder Trey Rowe had three goals and one assist.
Junior goalkeeper Jesse Bowman had 106 saves and was third-team all-district. Benton had seven saves and junior Gary Harper, who also played forward, had three saves.
"Jesse Bowman was great between the pipes for us, helping carry a young team," Turner said. "Jesse is very athletic, very tough and very vocal. We're very excited to have him in goal for another season.
"Charles Benton will be interesting to watch next year. If he works on his shooting and continues to embrace his role, he could be very dangerous for us up top."
Other starters expected back are juniors Thomas Benton (defender) and Blake Burton (forward), sophomore Josh Jennings (defender) and freshmen Ross Harrison (defender) and Jordan Miller (midfielder).
"We'll have the whole back line returning with Thomas Benton and Gary Harper as central defenders and Josh Jennings and Ross Harrison on the outside," Turner said. "They will be better next year if simply because of the experience from this season but also because those guys work so hard and expect so much out of themselves that they will push each other to be twice the line they were this year."
Also expected back are juniors Caleb Bentley (forward), Perry Hatcher (midfielder) and Guillermo Morales (defender), sophomore Trevor McGee (midfielder) and freshman Chase Bell (defender).
"I love our midfield because Travis Higgins and Collin Peterson work awesome together and have some of the finest possession skills I've seen," Turner said. "With Jordan Miller and Trey Rowe and Trevor McGee and Blake Burton working endlessly outside, they'll be fun to watch next year."