Chris Turner believes the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys soccer team is ready to make big strides in his second season as coach.
The Johnnies finished 4-11-2 overall last season after losing to Bloom-Carroll 7-1 in the first round of the Division III district tournament, but they went 3-0-2 in their final five regular-season games and had no seniors on the roster.
"It should be an exciting season with an experienced group of kids that are very passionate about soccer and driven to be the very best at whatever it is they do," Turner said. "That's what we ask as coaches and that's what they expect as players."
The Johnnies were 1-1 after defeating Northridge 4-0 on Aug. 22 in their Licking County League opener. Senior forward Charles Benton had two goals and senior goalkeeper Jesse Bowman had eight saves.
Johnstown lost its opener to Fairfield Union 4-1 on Aug. 17. Benton scored and Bowman had 14 saves.
The Johnnies return 13 players who started at one time last season -- seniors Benton, Thomas Benton (defender), Bowman, Blake Burton (midfielder) and Gary Harper (defender), juniors Travis Higgins (midfielder), Josh Jennings (defender), Guillermo Morales (midfielder) and Trey Rowe (midfielder) and sophomores Ross Harrison (defender), Trevor McGee (midfielder), Jordan Miller (defender) and Collin Peterson (midfielder).
Higgins is the top returning scorer with nine goals, and Charles Benton had five goals. Peterson led with eight assists.
"We hope to have a strong possession game this year as most of our experience is central, and we have a solid back line that's not afraid to have the ball at their feet," Turner said. "All of our starters have been here before and have a level of confidence they've lacked in the past. We've seen some great competition in the last year and I know they are ready for the challenge."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Caleb Bentley (forward), Matt Graham (midfielder), Perry Hatcher (midfielder) and Joey Mitchell (forward), junior Josh Evans (midfielder/goalie) and freshmen Joshua Bentley (goalie), Daniel Bigboy (defender), Max Cannon (midfielder), Matt Schell (midfielder) and Tyler Schlagheck (midfielder).
The Johnnies, an independent last season, will compete in the LCL with Granville, Heath, Lakewood, Licking Heights, Licking Valley, Northridge and Watkins Memorial.
Girls soccer team wins season opener
The girls soccer team got three goals from junior midfielder Kylie Workman and two more by freshman forward Alissa Rowe in a 7-0 opening victory over Tree of Life on Aug. 20.
Senior defender Tanner Jakeway had one goal and one assist, and junior midfielder Paige Cannon had the other goal. Junior midfielder Becca Gordon had three assists, and both senior midfielder Paige Turner and sophomore forward McKenna Thrash had one assist. Senior goalie Taylor Thomas had three saves.
Last season, the Johnnies finished 11-5-1 overall after losing to Fairbanks 3-2 in overtime in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
"These girls have a strong desire to learn, listen and work as a team," said coach Turner, who is in his first season leading both the boys and girls programs and took over for third-year coach Andy Buck. "We don't look for any one person to do it all. They know it's going to take every last one of them working within the system, putting their best out there all the time and trusting each other."
Gordon is the top returning scorer from last season with 16 goals and 12 assists, and Workman added six goals. Thomas, who is in her fourth season starting in goal, saved more than 80 percent of the shots she faced last fall.
Other starters back from last season are junior defenders Jasimine Donnelly and Kerrigan Williams.
Rounding out the roster are junior Olivia McGee (forward), sophomores Anna Benton (defender), Emily Cote (defen-der), Bre Dague (midfielder), Anna Hatcher (midfielder), Becca Kozel (defender), Hannah Miller (goalie), Emily Perez (midfielder) and Maddy Ross (defender) and freshmen Maci Ashbrook (defender), Kodi Babbs (midfielder), Keri Daley (midfielder), Alexis Meyer (defender) and Courtney Phelps (midfielder).
"We're a bit young, with only three seniors," coach Turner said. "They will need to stay focused."
The Johnnies, who were an independent last season, open LCL play Thursday, Aug. 29, at home against Lakewood.
Also in the league are Granville, Heath, Licking Heights, Licking Valley and Watkins Memorial.
Football team opens with Chillicothe
The football team opens Friday, Aug. 30, at home against Chillicothe.
The Johnnies have never played the Cavaliers, who finished 4-6 last season.
"Chillicothe has an up-and-coming program, especially with (former Amanda-Clearcreek coach) Ron Hinton down there," coach Mike Carter said.
"You know when he's coaching that his kids will be ready to play."
Chillicothe played in Division II last season, but has dropped to Division III in the new seven-division playoff format implemented by the OHSAA.
Johnstown remains in Division IV.
The Johnnies lost to Granville 39-20 in their opener last season. The teams now play in the LCL and meet Sept. 20 at Granville.
Johnstown finished 10-3 overall last season after losing to St. Clairsville 37-29 in the Division IV, Region 15 final. The Johnnies went 6-1 in the MBC to finish second behind Danville (7-0).
"(In an opener) you need to stress fundamentals and be prepared to play for four quarters of hard-nosed football," Carter said. "Plus, you have to remember that it's a game, and go out and have fun out there."
Boys golf team wins two LCL matches
The boys golf team was 11-0 in the LCL after defeating Newark Catholic 166-173 on Aug. 22 at Clover Valley. Kaden Welch (40) led the Johnnies.
Welch and Steven Thiel both had 37s as Johnstown defeated Northridge 151-168 on Aug. 20 at Clover Valley.
Girls golf team falls to Green Wave
The girls golf team was 1-7 in the LCL after losing to Newark Catholic 216-231 on Aug. 22 at Moundbuilders.
Ashley Arnold was medalist with a 51.