Centennial High School football coach Donte Goosby was pleased to see quarterback Jeremy Johnson throw a career-high five touchdown passes in a 54-24 victory at Columbus East on Oct. 18.
More importantly from Goosby's perspective, Centennial was able to rush for 264 yards led by running back Darsean Watts, who had 196 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
"The key to this victory was how we ran the ball, because when we have a good running game, our play-action passing can be unbeatable," said Goosby, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the City League-North Division. "It all really starts with our offensive line. We outmanned East up front, and they didn't have an answer when we ran the ball."
Goosby said it will be crucial for the Stars to establish their running game when they play host to Beechcroft on Friday, Oct. 25, in a league game.
Beechcroft lost to Brookhaven 34-7 on Oct. 18 to drop to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the City-North.
The Cougars' defense is led by linebacker Adonis Davis, safety Landers Cox and end Darius Ford.
"It's important that we continue to run the ball well because that sets up everything we do," Goosby said. "When we run the ball well it really opens up (offensive coordinator Anthony) Thornton's playbook."
On defense, Goosby said the top priority will be to contain the Cougars' running game.
Beechcroft's offense, which is led by quarterback Mike Powers, gained only 98 yards against Brookhaven.
"They have a lot of athletes and guys who are extremely physical up front," Goosby said. "What will determine whether we win or lose is how well we stop their running game. Our linebackers and defensive backs need to rally to the ball."
The Stars' defense showed improvement against East with end Hunter Waits and safety Dazmin Smith leading the way.
During Centennial's three-game losing streak, opponents averaged 54 points.
"We're getting better, but we still have a lot of work to do defensively," Goosby said. "East took advantage of us vertically with long passes and they got to the edge at certain points. We've got to improve our tackling because Beechcroft has a lot of athletes who can break long plays."
Girls volleyball team advances to semifinal
The 10th-seeded girls volleyball team opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 15 at home by defeating 15th-seeded Marion-Franklin 25-11, 25-15, 25-15.
The Stars then beat 19th-seeded Johnstown 25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 25-18 in the second round Oct. 19 at home to improve to 18-6 and advance to face top-seeded Hartley in a semifinal Thursday, Oct. 24, at Worthington Christian Middle School.
"What made the difference was our diversity of our offense," coach Brenden Pence said. "We were able to run our middles effectively as well as our outsides and opposite. Our passers stayed mostly disciplined besides a few small runs, which opened up our offense.
"(Libero) Alyah Dean serve-received well as well as had some great digs. (Setter) Sam Meanor established her hitters on offense and (opposite hitter) Marissa Robertson had some nice swings and blocks. (Outside hitter) Symfhani Pitts, (middle hitter) Alyssa Dean and (middle hitter) Jada Briggs all added in some nice swings."
The Centennial-Hartley winner will advance to a district final against fourth-seeded Granville or seventh-seeded Heath on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Worthington Christian Middle School.
"To move on and keep winning, we have to pay attention to detail and keep the ball alive," Pence said. "We have a tendency to only want to win the pretty points and we have to stay scrappy and active. Serving consistently and making smart decisions with our hitters is usually the difference between wins and losses for us."
The district champion will play in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Zanesville.
Boys soccer team goes 1-1 in tourney
The 10th-seeded boys soccer team opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 15 at home by defeating 24th-seeded Columbus South 15-0.
Forward Gus Ricksecker and midfielder Timothy Weishaupt each scored three goals, and midfielder Wasik Rahman and sweeper Luka Brkljacic each scored two goals.
The Stars then lost at ninth-seeded Hartley 3-1 on Oct. 17 in the second round after taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Weishaupt.
Centennial finished 8-4-5.
"Our game against Hartley was very even," coach Scott George said. "We started well and took a lead, but they scored on a penalty kick to tie it and they kept that momentum on their side the rest of the game."
Girls soccer team loses in second round
The 10th-seeded girls soccer team opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 16 at home with a 1-0 overtime victory over 12th-seeded Licking Valley.
The Stars then lost at sixth-seeded Big Walnut 12-0 in the second round Oct. 19 to finish 9-8.
Cross country teams end season at district
The boys cross country team finished 11th (316 points) in the 14-team Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Hilliard Davidson (29).
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pickerington North.
Scoring for the Stars were Kevin Adams (22nd, 17 minutes, 20.27 seconds), Dallas Gordon (71st, 19:52.39), Glauco Fontgalland (75th, 20:21.88), Brian May (79th, 20:36.33) and Callan Reese (80th, 20:59.03).
The girls team finished 12th (341) in the district 3 meet behind champion Upper Arlington (64), as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Scoring for Centennial were Kate Ryan (25th, 20:27.47), Jaleah Fair-Harris (59th, 21:47.5), Alexis Vance-Townsend (60th, 21:48.32), Aiyanna Howard (97th, 24:48.53) and Shannon Branch (100th, 25:42.02).