Darnell excels on field, in class
One of the goals of the Northland High School football team entering this season was to improve on its decision-making in order to help compensate for having a slew of new players in key roles.
Players such as senior Robby Darnell are helping to make that possible.
According to coach Kevin Tooson, Darnell made a clutch catch and had a long kickoff return to go along with a fourth-quarter, two-point conversion in a 32-26 overtime victory over Logan on Aug. 31.
Darnell also has shined in the locker room as well as the classroom, according to Tooson.
Darnell is involved with student council and is planning to participate in the coming months on the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program.
"I felt like a proud dad watching (the first-year players) mature (against Logan)," said Tooson, whose team lost to Toledo Rogers 20-8 on Sept. 7 to fall to 1-2 and begins City League-North Division play Friday, Sept. 14, at home against Linden-McKinley. "Robby is definitely one of our leaders. He's a character kid and a 3.0 student who's involved with a lot of other things at school."
"I'm not starting STEM until after football, but I've been to a couple meetings," Darnell said. "Going to those helped me look at things differently on the football field. It helps me attack things better on the field."
Among Darnell's school activities is reading the school's morning announcements, and he took advantage of the opportunity Aug. 24 by reminding his schoolmates not to miss Northland's game later that night against Eastmoor Academy.
Although the Vikings lost 27-6 that night, they scored their only touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Glenn Smith III to Sherman Watson.
The finish seemed to carry over to the Logan game, which featured a pair of touchdown runs and one touchdown pass from Smith and an 80-yard kickoff return for a score by Jhustus Cornley.
"It was a much-needed confidence booster for the whole team," Darnell said. "(Smith) is pretty good. A couple guys who came through Northland said they think he's one of the best quarterbacks Northland has ever had."
"I saw in the Eastmoor game that we've got a group of guys that will fight," Tooson said. "We can see ourselves on film getting better."
Vikings boys soccer team starts well
The Northland boys soccer team was 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the City League after beating Independence 7-3 on Sept. 6.
The Vikings, who played Columbus West on Sept. 11, opened City play Aug. 30 with an 11-1 win over Marion-Franklin and then Briggs 5-3 on Sept. 4. They play host to Walnut Ridge on Thursday, Sept. 13, and Eastmoor on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
According to third-year coach Mike McDaniel, the play of sophomore goalkeeper Dipen Adhikari helped the Vikings outscore their first three opponents 21-5.
Other key players include seniors Martine Montero (forward/midfielder), Sheku Camara (forward/midfielder) and Paul Antwi (forward/midfielder) and juniors Edgar Gonzalez (defender), Donovan Starks (defender) and Ibrahim Mansaray (midfielder).
Last season, Brookhaven went 10-1 to finish first in the City, with Centennial (9-1-1), Beechcroft (8-3), Walnut Ridge (8-3) and Northland (6-3-2) rounding out the top five.
The Vikings lost to eighth-seeded Dublin Jerome 5-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament to finish 8-4-2 overall.
"We're slowly getting there," McDaniel said. "We've still got a lot of work to do. We really won't face our biggest tests until later in the season when we play Beechcroft (Oct. 9), Centennial (Oct. 4) and Brookhaven (Oct. 2)."
Bearcats football team gets first win
The Brookhaven football team earned its first victory Sept. 8 when it won 20-17 in overtime at Fairfield. The game originally was scheduled for Sept. 7 but was postponed because of bad weather.
The Bearcats are 1-2 as they open City-North action Friday, Sept. 14, at Columbus East.
Against Fairfield, the game was tied at 14 at the end of regulation. After a 47-yard field goal by Fairfield's Ryan Nuss made it 17-14, Brookhaven quarterback Kevin Greenhow ran for the winning 20-yard touchdown.
Brookhaven scored its other touchdowns on a 5-yard pass from Greenhow to Casey Gayle and an 18-yard pass from Greenhow to Ramone Broomfield.
Greenhow was 15-for-31 passing for 174 yards with no interceptions and rushed for 55 yards on 19 attempts.
The Bearcats totaled 340 yards of offense while giving up 239.
Cougars volleyball coach likes team's core
The Beechcroft girls volleyball team returns a pair of key players from last season in seniors Kennedy Davis (middle hitter) and Brianna Radcliff (outside hitter).
Dazaaria Long, Yasemin Nutter-Barnes and Amber Radcliff also are seniors in the program.
Other players include juniors Melvon Cannady (outside hitter) and Tivia Hylton (middle hitter) and sophomores Jasmin Goforth (libero) and Ciearra Shuford (setter).
The Cougars lost to Northland 25-18, 17-25, 25-13, 25-15 on Sept. 4 to fall to 1-2 overall and in the City-North. They played host to Centennial on Sept. 11 and travel to Columbus International on Thursday, Sept. 13, and Mifflin on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
"My core group is really strong," sixth-year coach Rita Hinz said. "They're working well as a team and are doing what they should be doing. We need to keep away from injuries."
Last season, Beechcroft went 4-10 in the City-North to finish sixth, behind Northland (13-1), Centennial (11-3), Whetstone (11-3), Brookhaven (8-6) and Columbus East (7-7) and ahead of Mifflin (2-12) and Linden (0-14).
The Cougars lost to East 22-25, 16-25, 25-9, 25-10, 15-5 in the first round of the Division II district tournament last year.