Although his team had just two wins through eight games, Marysville High School football coach Morgan Cotter could sense a continued commitment from his players.
The Monarchs will try to close the season on a positive note when they play host to Hilliard Davidson on Friday, Oct. 26.
Marysville was 2-6 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central Crossing on Oct. 19.
"This season has just flown by," Cotter said. "We would like to have a better record than we do, but we've done a lot of good things. Our kids have really battled through. We've probably had three of the best weeks of practice in the last three weeks. The kids understand the tempo in practice we're looking for. The nice thing is the kids are still working their tails off."
After splitting its first four games, Davidson had won four consecutive games before playing Thomas Worthington on Oct. 19 and was eighth in the Division I, Region 3 computer ratings. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Davidson is seeking its fifth consecutive postseason berth. The Wildcats won state titles in 2006 and 2009.
The programs last met in 1974 when Davidson was Hilliard High School. The Wildcats won 22-6.
Before playing Thomas, Davidson running back E.J. Jennings had surpassed 100 yards in four consecutive games, including efforts of 310 yards against Upper Arlington on Oct. 5 and 256 yards against Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 11.
Through eight games, Jennings had 1,139 yards on 194 carries with 18 touchdowns.
Sophomore Ziyad Rasul has taken over at quarterback for Davidson in place of junior Nick Iske, who was injured in a 42-6 win over Central Crossing on Sept. 22.
"Davidson is going to be a huge challenge," Cotter said. "I would have liked to seen Davidson week three or four and not week 10. You knew they were young, but they have a great coaching staff. You knew the kids would be playing at a high level once they got to that game 10. They like to run the football.
"They want to pound it. It's nothing real fancy, but it's real effective."
Marysville lost to visiting UA 28-20 on Oct. 12 after falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter.
Quarterback Kyle Hites connected with Jimmy Applegate for a 12-yard touchdown, and Hites then returned an interception 60 yards for a score to pull Marysville within 21-13 at halftime.
Marysville trailed 28-13 in the fourth quarter when Hites hit Alec Draughon for a 16-yard touchdown.
The Monarchs lost the ball on downs in the final minute as they were driving for the potential tying points.
"They played their hearts out," Cotter said. "For whatever reason, we come out slow in the first quarter at times and you can't spot good teams 21 points and expect to come back and win."
Through eight games, Hites had completed 91 of 157 passes for 1,094 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 759 yards and five touchdowns on 148 carries.
Kody Davisson had 284 yards rushing and 207 receiving.
"I feel that we have played well, but not quite as well as we had hoped," senior defensive end Logan Burns said.
"We have continued to get better not only as a team but with the new coaching staff as well, and we plan to keep getting better."
Runners compete in league meet
The boys and girls cross country teams prepared for the Division I, district 1 meet at Watkins Memorial on Oct. 20 by competing in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Darby.
The boys team was sixth (142) behind Davidson (28), Liberty (39), Dublin Coffman (86), Thomas (128) and UA (141) and ahead of Central Crossing (210) and Westland (226).
Freshman Alec Sandusky was 25th in 16 minutes, 48.2 seconds.
Other runners for Marysville were senior Ryan Fitzgerald (27th, 16:51.93), sophomore Michael Coffey (31st, 17:00.7), seniors Aaron Cingle (34th, 17:13.18) and Nathan Wasik (42nd, 17:21.54), juniors Joel Fehrman (48th, 17:35.81) and Christian Madsen (50th, 17:38.13), seniors Josh Brady (52nd, 17:44.07) and Clay Cochran (55th, 17:57.51) and junior T.J. Borawski (58th, 18:12.66).
The girls team was sixth (188) behind Coffman (43), Davidson (51), UA (51), Liberty (102) and Thomas (107) and ahead of Central Crossing (196). Westland did not have enough runners for a team score.
Junior Megan Miller was 32nd (20:48.38).
Other runners for the Monarchs were junior Maddy Hoy (35th, 20:59.12), seniors Ashley Zani (39th, 21:15.8) and Nicole Lindsey (46th, 21:48.41), freshman Samantha Weingates (47th, 21:55.05), juniors Jessie Kmietsch (51st, 22:26.97) and Victoria Williams (52nd, 22:51.3), sophomore Allanah Larriuz (55th, 23:11.23) and freshman Beth Miller (56th, 23:42.29).