The offensive and defensive lines have flexed their muscles over the past few weeks for the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team.
The offensive line opened up holes to allow junior running back Cody Farley to rush for 332 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries in a 56-26 win over Heath on Oct. 25.
The defensive line took control Oct. 18 in a 49-16 win over Utica, limiting running back Travis Baldwin to 53 yards on 27 carries. One week earlier, Baldwin rushed for a program-record 471 yards in a 59-38 win over Heath.
"We work hard and go hard against each other to make each other better," said senior defensive end Clayton Bullard, whose team was 5-4 overall before playing Licking Heights on Nov. 1. "When (the defensive linemen) pass-rush against the (offensive linemen in practice), we go right at each other because it's the only way to make us better."
Bullard sees the hard work from both sides. On offense, he lines up at tight end with senior Aaron Davis, junior Jonathan Cox, junior Mitch Montgomery, junior Joey Norris, junior Jake Taylor and freshman Jeff Nogaj on the line. Freshman Kyle Carpenter also plays tight end.
The defensive line includes a rotation of senior Logan Writesel, Taylor, junior Matt Walton and sophomore Alex Catalogna.
"(Linemen) love to hit and they love to play football," coach Mike Carter said. "They really do feed off each and they have great chemistry."
Senior running back Alex Workman added 105 yards and one touchdown on five carries against Heath. Bullard caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Josh Kirkpatrick.
Entering the regular-season finale against Licking Heights, the Johnnies needed a victory to have a chance at reaching their third consecutive postseason. The Division IV, Region 13 playoff pairings are released Sunday, Nov. 3.
Girls soccer team to return top talent
The girls soccer team finished 10-7-1 overall after losing to 11th-seeded Hartley 4-1 in the second round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 19 at home.
Fifth-seeded Johnstown defeated 15th-seeded Beech-croft 8-0 on Oct. 16 in the first round.
The Johnnies finished third (4-2) in the LCL behind co-champions Granville and Watkins Memorial (5-0-1) and ahead of Licking Valley (3-3), Lakewood (2-4), Licking Heights (1-5) and Heath (0-6).
The Johnnies had three seniors in defender Tanner Jakeway, goalkeeper Taylor Thomas (honorable mention all-league) and midfielder Paige Turner.
"This year, our three seniors were part of the first high school girls team," said coach Chris Turner, who also led the boys team. "They were big-time contributors. ... It's truly been a privilege to work with such strong, driven kids that find success in everything they set their minds to. They will be missed."
The Johnnies expect to return all their top scorers, including junior midfielder Becca Gordon (first-team all-league), who had 29 goals and 14 assists. Other top scoring threats included junior midfielder Kylie Workman (13 goals, 4 assists), junior midfielder Paige Cannon (7 goals, 6 assists), freshman forward Alissa Rowe (6 goals), sophomore midfielder Emily Perez (3 goals, 2 assists), junior forward Olivia McGee (2 goals, 3 assists), junior defender Jasimine Donnelly (2 goals, 1 assist) and junior Kerrigan Williams (2 goals), a second-team all-league defender.
Also expected back are sophomores Anna Benton (defen-der), Emily Cote (defender), Bre Dague (midfielder), Anna Hatcher (midfielder), Becca Kozel (defender), Hannah Miller (goalie), Maddy Ross (defender) and McKenna Thrash (forward) and freshmen Maci Ashbrook (defender), Kodi Babbs (midfielder), Keri Daley (midfielder), Alexis Meyer (defender) and Courtney Phelps (midfielder).
"These girls can take it to another level next year, but they need to spend the offseason getting stronger," Turner said. "They need to get in the weight room and keep up the cardio, do the extra stuff that separates the good players from the great."
Boys soccer team finishes third in LCL
The boys soccer team finished 10-4-4 overall after losing to third-seeded Big Walnut 3-0 on Oct. 17 in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
The 12th-seeded Johnnies defeated 18th-seeded Marion-Franklin 6-0 on Oct. 15 in the first round.
Johnstown finished third (3-1-3) in the LCL behind Watkins Memorial (6-0-1) and Granville (6-1) and ahead of Heath (4-3), Northridge (3-4), Lakewood (2-4-1), Licking Valley (1-5-1) and Licking Heights (0-7).
The Johnnies had nine seniors in forward Charles Benton (honorable mention all-league), defender Thomas Benton, forward Caleb Bentley, goalie Jesse Bowman (first-team all-league; 112 saves), midfielder Blake Burton, midfielder Matt Graham, defender Gary Harper (second-team all-league), midfielder Perry Hatcher and forward Joey Mitchell.
"We were very fortunate to have the leadership from our seniors," Turner said. "They did a great job keeping the team focused and heading in the right direction. These guys have all been a big part of the success we've had, constantly encouraging others to work harder to be better players, better people and very fine young men."
Charles Benton (18 goals, 3 assists) was the team's leading scorer. Johnstown expects to return scoring threats in junior midfielder Travis Higgins (5 goals, 4 assists), junior midfielder Guillermo Morales (5 assists, 3 assists), freshman midfielder Max Cannon (5 goals, 2 assists) and sophomore midfielder Collin Peterson (4 goals, 4 assists).
Also expected back are juniors Josh Evans (mid-fielder/goalie), Josh Jennings (defender) and Trey Rowe (midfielder), sophomores Ross Harrison (defender), Trevor McGee (midfielder) and Jordan Miller (defender) and freshmen Joshua Bentley (goalie), Daniel Bigboy (defender), Matt Schell (midfielder) and Tyler Schlagheck (midfielder).
"If we want to win games against teams like Big Walnut, Granville or Watkins (Memorial), we're going to have to take the offseason seriously," Turner said. "We need to get touches wherever we can, get stronger, improve our cardio and get to a point that they come to summer camp ready to play. We're close, but we need to use the winter months to our advantage."