New Albany Roundup
Football team eyes another OCC title
Stinging from back-to-back losses in the first two weeks of the season, the New Albany High School football team rebounded with a sound defeat of DeSales, beating the host Stallions 56-22 on Sept. 7.
"We were real close in (the first two) ballgames," coach Mark Mueller said, referring to a 10-9 loss to Reynoldsburg on Aug. 24 and a 23-20 overtime loss to Westerville Central on Aug. 31. "We were looking for people to step up and make plays and people stepped up and made plays."
New Albany improved to 1-2 heading into the opening week of OCC-Capital Division play. The Eagles begin their quest for a fourth consecutive league title Friday, Sept. 14, at Olentangy Orange. The Pioneers also improved to 2-1 on Sept. 7 with a 21-19 win at Worthington Kilbourne.
New Albany shared the OCC-Capital championship with Big Walnut and Orange last season, as all three teams finished 6-1. The Eagles lost to Orange 32-7 but beat Big Walnut 34-31 a year ago while Big Walnut defeated Orange 35-34.
"We love it," Mueller said of league play. "It's going to be hard week in and week out. We're ready to rock and roll."
Orange romped to victory over New Albany last season behind running back Brandon Schoen, who rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. Thankfully for the Eagles, Schoen graduated last spring.
Orange's wing-T offense is led by quarterback Kofi Hill and running backs Mike Forbes and Larry Rode. The Pioneers had 213 yards rushing against Kilbourne, with Forbes running for 119 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
"It's a big game," Watson said of the matchup with Orange. "We'll see where that takes us the rest of the season."
New Albany got off to an early lead against DeSales as senior Alan Watson returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. After the Eagles forced DeSales to three-and-out on the ensuing possession, senior and Ohio State recruit Darron Lee returned the punt 47 yards for a touchdown to give New Albany a 14-0 advantage before its offense had taken the field.
In addition to kickoff return for a touchdown, Watson had a career game at running back, as he carried 10 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 25, 9, 18 and 77 yards and had a 52-yard touchdown nullified by a penalty in the third quarter.
"The fact that it's a rivalry game and it is DeSales brought everything out," Watson said.
"Every player came out with their all."
In addition to scoring on a punt return, Lee was 3-for-5 passing for 42 yards and ran five times for 23 yards and a touchdown from his quarterback position and had an interception playing the secondary.
"We practiced all week on finishing," Watson said. "The (games against Reynoldsburg and Central), we didn't finish like we wanted to."
Boys golf team eyeing OCC title
The boys golf team headed into the third round of the OCC-Capital tournament on Sept. 11 at The Players Club at Foxfire with a sizable lead in the overall league standings after winning the first two rounds.
New Albany was 12-0 through two rounds, four wins ahead of Mount Vernon (8-4) and Orange (8-4). Olentangy (7-5) was fourth, followed by Big Walnut (4-8), Watkins Memorial (3-9) and Delaware (0-12). Franklin Heights does not have enough players for a team score.
The final round of the league tournament is Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Granville Golf Course.
"I feel pretty positive about (being unbeaten through two rounds)," said coach Andrew Norman, whose team is aiming for its third consecutive OCC-Capital title.
"I knew we'd be one of the stronger teams in the conference."
New Albany won the first round Aug. 15 at Apple Valley with a 291, finishing well ahead of runner-up Olentangy (319). The Eagles won the second round Aug. 20 at Darby Creek with a 301, as Orange (334) finished a distant second.
New Albany had the top four finishers in the second round. Jack Carter was the overall medalist with a 74, one stroke ahead of Jackson Moss (75). Nick Karzmer and Avery Schneider both shot a 76.
As well as the Eagles have played, Norman said his golfers have to guard against complacency.
"I don't want to say we're where we want to be," he said. "I think we have some more proving to do in the second half of the season to get to where we want to be come (the Division I sectional and district tournaments)."
Carter, a senior, recently made a verbal commitment to Iowa State. He is the latest New Albany golfer headed for a Division I college program. Mark Folkwein, a 2011 graduate, is playing for George Mason in Fairfax, Va.
Iowa State, which is a member of the Big 12 Conference, has nine NCAA tournament appearances since 1990, with the most recent coming in 2008.
"The coaches are very professional and they know what it takes to put together a top Division I team," Carter said of his decision to join the Cyclones. "(Iowa State has) some new practice facilities that are being built right now and should be done by November. It's going to be one of the nicest facilities in the country."
Heading into the third round of the OCC-Capital tournament, Carter had a team-best 72-stroke average, with his lowest total for 18 holes being 69, which he carded in the New Albany Invitational on Aug. 14 at New Albany Links.
"That's probably the lowest average we've had in our golf program," Norman said. "He's stepped it up and improved from last year."