Even though the Centennial High School football team finished 1-9 overall, first-year coach Mark Shaffer said the Stars were successful in ways that can't be measured by their record or statistics.
"Unfortunately, most people just look at wins and losses when they judge a season, but success isn't always all about wins and losses," Shaffer said. "A 1-9 record definitely isn't acceptable and that's something we're continuing to work on, but we were successful in that our kids' attitudes and work ethic has improved. That's something that can't be seen on paper, but it's very important. As our overall attitude and work ethic continues to get better, I think we'll see other positive changes that will lead to a better record."
On Sept. 21, the Stars beat host Linden-McKinley 15-8 in a City League-North Division game.
After falling behind 8-0 in the first quarter, the Stars pulled within 8-7 when senior fullback Robert Dye scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter. Centennial went ahead 15-8 in the third quarter when senior defensive end Aaron Giles recovered a fumble in the end zone and sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson ran in the two-point conversion.
Centennial also was competitive in a 26-20 loss to visiting Whetstone on Oct. 26.
The Stars took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after Johnson scored on a 59-yard run and sophomore fullback Darsean Watts scored on a 60-yard run.
After Whetstone scored 24 consecutive points, senior tailback P.J. Rodgers had a 17-yard touchdown run to pull the Stars within 24-20 in the fourth quarter.
However, the Stars lost their other eight games by margins of 14 points or more and finished seventh in the City-North at 1-6, behind Beechcroft (7-0), Brookhaven (6-1), Mifflin (5-2), Northland (4-3), Whetstone (3-4) and Columbus East (2-5) and ahead of Linden (0-7).
"We played well in our win against Linden-McKinley and in our loss to Whetstone," Shaffer said. "We'll need to improve our numbers to be more competitive, though, because we only had 41 kids in our entire program. We had some kids get banged up this year and when you don't have many kids to begin with, it really hurts when you're missing a handful of starters for any length of time."
The Stars lose seven senior two-way starters in Eric Cofer-Wilson (WR/CB), Dye (FB/LB), Robert Harrison (WR/CB), Cody Jones (TE/LB), Ronald Phillips (OG/LB), Jordon Talley (OG/DT) and Rodgers (RB/SS).
Rodgers, who had 55 tackles, two interceptions and a sack, was second-team all-league. He also rushed for 511 yards and six touchdowns.
Talley, who had 42 tackles and seven sacks, was second-team all-league.
Cofer-Wilson and Phillips were honorable mention all-league.
Expected to come back to start in Centennial's offset-I offense are Johnson, Watts, junior running back Dazmin Smith, junior tight end Jirequez Fair-Harris, junior guard Kenny Lambert and junior twins Nick Martin (OT) and Noah Martin (C).
Johnson and Fair-Harris were honorable mention all-league.
Starters expected back on defense are Lambert (DT), Watts (LB), Nick Martin (DT) and sophomore Donald Stinson (DB).
Johnson is expected to again handle punting duties, but the Stars will need to replace junior kicker Karl Schuette, who is moving back to Germany.
"Our seniors did the best job they could with the coaching changes that we had," Shaffer said. "We're not going to be able to change everything overnight, but we're making positive changes and improving. I'm hoping that will lead to more wins for us next year."
Adams runs at state for boys squad
Junior Kevin Adams became the first member of the boys cross country team to reach the state meet since Ryan Wilbur in 2003. Adams placed 31st of 150 runners in a personal-record 16:29.58.
The Stars scored 109 points to finish second in the City League meet, behind Whetstone (37) and ahead of Columbus South (110), Eastmoor (119), Walnut Ridge (140), Africentric (141), Mifflin (186), Northland (188), Independence (192), Marion-Franklin (197) and Beechcroft (268).
Centennial had won the previous two City meets.
The Stars finished ninth (221) in the 12-team Division II, district 1 meet behind champion Granville (16). Competing were Adams (seventh, 17:19.6), senior John Neutzling (15th, 18:05.71), junior Matthias Scherer (47th, 20:18.66), junior Glauco Fontgalland (78th, 23:27.68) and freshman Shayekh Rara (81st, 26:25.79).
Competing as individuals at regional, Adams finished 15th in 16:52.75 and Neutzling placed 73rd in 18:20.29.
Girls runners win another league title
The girls cross country team scored 41 points to win the City League meet Oct. 10 at Whetstone, capturing its fifth consecutive league championship ahead of Whetstone (42), Northland (77), Africentric (92) and Eastmoor Academy (97).
The Stars then finished 11th (246) in the 14-team Division II district meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Granville (41). Competing were sophomore Catherine Ryan (10th, 20 minutes, 43.82 seconds), junior Emiyah Kelly (21st, 21:52.95), junior Carmen Godel (51st, 23:42.54), sophomore Emily Carpenter (89th, 25:56.04), sophomore Breanna Neutzling (102nd, 28:00.93), sophomore Natalie Thies (116th, 32:25.42) and sophomore Claire Curran (119th, 33:06.23).
The top four teams and top 16 individuals from the boys and girls district races advanced to the regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, where Ryan finished 20th (20:02.71) as the top 16 individuals in the boys and girls meets advanced to state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.