With injuries mounting for the Northridge High School football team, several freshmen have stepped into major roles for the Vikings.
Those contributions have given coach Darby Riley hope for the future.
"We have a good sized freshmen class (with 13 players) that has really helped us," said Riley, whose team was 2-6 overall and 0-2 in the LCL-Small School Division before playing Utica on Oct. 25. "We have had a lot of injuries and (the freshmen) might have had to step in earlier than we would have wanted, but they are learning every time they go out there."
Two freshmen have been starting in linebacker Gage Linkous and center Austin Chambers, although Linkous recently has been slowed by a sprained ankle.
Gunner Absten has been seeing time at wide receiver and defensive back, with Logan Garee at linebacker and Daniel Hatfield at defensive back and backup quarterback.
"Logan Garee has been out there playing, gutting it out, with a broken arm," Riley said. "My thought process was to take a year or to build these kids up, but that didn't happen (because of injuries)."
Riley also said sophomore Sam Dorn, a running back and linebacker, has been making contributions.
The Vikings end the season Friday, Nov. 1, at Heath in a league game. The Bulldogs were 1-7 overall and 0-2 in the LCL-Small before playing Johnstown-Monroe on Oct. 25.
Heath lost to Watkins Memorial 52-30 on Oct. 18 despite 167 yards rushing by Jaivon Gresham on 29 carries. Through eight games, the senior running back had rushed for 1,019 yards with six touchdowns on 175 carries.
The Vikings lost to Newark Catholic 41-21 on Oct. 18. It was the first time Riley coached against his alma mater.
"I teach at Northridge and have coached here for a few years, so these kids have become my kids," Riley said. "I went to school at Newark Catholic and will always love it, but they have welcomed me here at Northridge with open arms. I really enjoy it here and I really feel like we are making ground here."
Junior quarterback Bryant Garee rushed for 79 yards and passed for 171 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Tim Gearry. Junior running back Chase Hess ran for 74 yards and one touchdown and senior running back Eric Dills caught nine passes for 68 yards.
"I get more confidence with every snap and I have confidence in the line in front of me," Bryant Garee said. "I have more and more time to pass every week."
Soccer team loses to Madison Christian
The boys soccer team finished 5-9-1 overall after losing at 11th-seeded Madison Christian 4-1 on Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
Junior forward Connor Wood scored and sophomore goalkeeper Skyler Pritts had nine saves.
The 14th-seeded Vikings defeated 13th-seeded West Jefferson 5-3 on Oct. 16 in the first round.
Northridge finished fifth (3-4) in the LCL behind Watkins Memorial (6-0-1), Granville (6-1), Johnstown (3-1-3) and Heath (4-3) and ahead of Lakewood (2-4-1), Licking Valley (1-5-1) and Licking Heights (0-7).
Senior defender Michael Travis was first-team all-league, sophomore midfielder Robi Patrick was on the second team and Pritts was honorable mention.
"We had a lot of younger players, so we spent a lot of time on fundamentals," said coach Leonard Moffatt, who completed his second season. "We started with passing and moving the ball and that has worked well for us. We're a lot better than when we started (in August)."
Patrick led a balanced attack with four goals and three assists, and Travis had three goals and one assist. Wood had two goals and three assists, and junior defender Tyler Miller and junior midfielder Jesse Nussbaum both had three goals. Sophomore midfielder Noah Anderson and senior midfielder Connor Johnson both had two goals.
Other seniors for the Vikings were Alex Arnold (defender), Matt Grindle (defender), Summer Prevost, (midfielder) and Ryan Trimble (defender).
Also expected to return are junior Emily Dalton (midfielder), sophomores Christian Corwin (forward), Kylor Kuahui (midfielder), Kyle Stermer (midfielder), Noah Tornes (midfielder) and Jordan Wolfe (defender) and freshmen Mitch Chesser (midfielder), Randall Fox (midfielder) and Alex Yebaile (defender).
Season ends for runners at district
The season ended for the boys and girls cross country teams in the Division II district meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
Neither squad had enough runners to score. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional Oct. 26 at Troy.
Senior Kaitlin Garee finished 119th at district in 25 minutes, 11.62 seconds. She was the only Northridge girl to compete.
Freshman James Peek (128th, 21:42.91) was the lone runner for the Northridge boys at district. Sophomore Colin Evans did not compete because of a conflict with a marching band competition.
In the LCL meet Oct. 12 at Watkins Memorial., Northridge did not have enough runners for a team score in the boys or girls race. Evans finished 31st (18:56.54) and Peek was 49th (20:59.62) in the boys race, and Garee was 51st (25:22.21) in the girls race.
Senior Vivian Carney also ran for the girls team.
"We don't have a lot of kids, but that could change," said coach Gene Weil, who completed his second season. "Kim Garee is my assistant coach and she's a teacher and the kids like her. We should expect to have more kids next year."
Volleyball team falls to top seed
The girls volleyball team finished 4-16 after losing at top-seeded Sparta Highland 25-10, 25-7, 25-21 on Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
Sophomore hitter Savannah Legg had nine kills, senior hitter Sara Pribonic had four kills and junior setter Faith Miller had two aces for the 22nd-seeded Vikings, who had a first-round bye.