A young Northridge High School boys soccer team will be learning on the go as the Vikings play in the Licking County League for the first time since 1991.
The top scorer back is senior forward Connor Johnson, who had three goals and two assists for a team that finished 9-4 overall last season after losing to Gahanna Christian 2-1 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
Other top offensive threats returning are junior midfielder Jack Roudebush (1 goal, 2 assists) and sophomore midfielder Robi Patrick (2 goals).
"We're young, so we definitely need to get more game experience," said Jordan Johnson, an assistant under second-year coach Leonard Moffatt. "This is more of a learning season, that's for sure. We have a young team with a lot of players growing into varsity soccer players."
Johnson said the process has been aided with several athletes playing club soccer during the offseason.
"We have some key players who play club (soccer) like Connor Johnson, Robi Patrick, (senior defender) Michael Travis and (freshman midfielder) Mitch Chesser," said coach Johnson, a 2011 graduate of Northridge. "Mitch Chesser is only a freshman, but he has a lot of years of club soccer behind him."
The key loss to graduation was goalkeeper Alex Shedloski, who now is a non-scholarship player at the University of Akron. He was second-team all-district a year ago after making 106 saves in 13 games.
Sophomore Skyler Pritts has taken over in goal.
"Skyler had been looking solid for us," coach Johnson said.
"He still has some things to learn, but he has looked solid in the scrimmages."
Coach Johnson said Pritts will have some protection from a strong back line that includes senior Alex Arnold, Travis and senior Ryan Trimble.
"Our back line and our defense is probably our strength right now," coach Johnson said. "They are bigger guys and having them back there will help keep the shock to a minimum for our young goalie."
Also back are juniors Emily Dalton (midfielder/goalie), Regan Turner (defender) and Connor Wood (forward) and sophomores Noah Anderson (midfielder), Kyle Stermer (midfielder), Noah Tornes (midfielder) and Jordan Wolfe (defender).
Rounding out the roster are seniors Matt Grindle (defender) and Summer Prevost (midfielder), juniors Tyler Miller (defender) and Jesse Nussbaum (midfielder), sophomores Christian Corwin (forward) and Kylor Kuahui (midfielder) and freshmen Randall Fox (midfielder) and Alex Yebaile (defender).
The Vikings, an independent last season, opened the season Aug. 22 by losing to Johnstown-Monroe 4-0 in an LCL contest.
The league also includes Granville, Heath, Lakewood, Licking Heights, Licking Valley and Watkins Memorial. Newark Catholic and Utica are in the league, but do not have boys soccer teams.
Football team opens with Millersport
The football team opens Friday, Aug. 30, at home against Millersport.
Jacob Burke, a senior running back and linebacker, is excited to kick off the season.
"We've been working hard for this since Dec. 1," said Burke, who rushed for 84 yards on 13 carries in a 34-0 win over Millersport last season. "We want to get out there and show everyone how hard we have worked to get better."
Last season against Millers-port, the Vikings rushed for 238 of their 308 total yards. Junior Chase Hess ran for 85 yards on seven carries and caught five passes for 23 yards. Junior quarterback Bryant Garee was 7-for-11 passing for 70 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"Last year at this time, I had a broken bone in my foot and probably wasn't even playing at 75 percent," Burke said. "After surgery in the winter and rehabbing my foot, I know it's strong and it feels good to be back to 100 percent. I'm ready to go full-go on every play."
The Vikings have defeated Millersport four consecutive seasons, outscoring the Lakers 144-23.
Boys golf team defeats Utica
The boys golf team was 5-6 in the LCL after defeating Utica 176-183 on Aug. 22 at The Links at Echo Springs. Matt Simmons and Ethan Doon both had 38s to share medalist honors.
On Aug. 20 at Clover Valley, Simmons was medalist with a 36 as the Vikings lost to Johnstown 151-168.