After the Centennial High School football team got out to a 3-1 start, coach Donte Goosby was hoping the Stars would earn their first winning record since 2001, when they finished 6-4.
But even after Centennial lost five of its last six games to finish 4-6 overall for its 12th consecutive losing season, Goosby pointed out his team made major strides after going 1-9 last year.
"We didn't do as well as we wanted to this season, but we did a lot better than we did last year and that's something our team should be proud of," he said. "We played a lot of young guys and they took their lumps last year, but they came back as experienced players and did much better this year. Hopefully, we'll keep building on what we've accomplished."
The Stars opened Aug. 30 with a 20-7 victory at Grandview. They then rallied from a 35-21 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat visiting Franklin Heights 48-47 on Sept. 6 as junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw five touchdown passes, including a 19-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Patterson with 28.2 seconds remaining.
"Beating Grandview was a huge moment for our guys because it was the first time any of them have experienced opening their season with a victory," Goosby said. "The Grandview win set the tone for our season and gave us the confidence we needed to come from behind to beat Franklin Heights the following week."
After losing to Bexley 34-22 on Sept. 12, the Stars bounced back to defeat Linden-McKinley 28-18 in their City League-North Division opener Sept. 20.
Centennial also beat Columbus East 54-24 in a league game Oct. 18 to go 4-0 against teams that finished with losing records. But the Stars went 0-6 against opponents that finished.500 or better.
The Stars finished sixth in the City-North at 2-5, behind Brookhaven (7-0), Northland (5-2), Beechcroft (5-2), Whetstone (4-3) and Mifflin (4-3) and ahead of East (1-6) and Linden (0-7).
"When we play the better teams in our league the margin for error is zero because we don't have the size or speed that most of them have," Goosby said.
The Stars expect to return nine players who started multiple games on offense in Johnson, Patterson, junior running back DarSean Watts, junior wide receiver Tyler Hill, junior linemen Kenny Lambert, Mark Morrison and Hunter Waits and freshmen linemen Darius Echols and Timothy Leach.
Johnson, who threw for more than 1,500 yards with 18 touchdowns and rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns, was honorable mention all-league. Watts and Patterson were second-team all-league.
The offense loses four senior starters in linemen and twins Nick and Noah Martin, tight end Jirequez Fair-Harris and wide receiver Taylour Ousley. Fair-Harris was first-team all-league.
The Stars also lose three senior starters on defense in Dazmin Smith at safety, Noah Martin on the line and Fair-Harris at linebacker. Smith was second-team all-league.
Key returnees on defense should include junior safety Cole Murray, junior Anthony Slappy, sophomore Marquise St. John and Watts at linebacker, Lambert, Echols, Leach, Morrison and Waits on the line and Hill and Patterson at cornerback. Waits was second-team all-league.
Johnson is expected to punt again next season, but the Stars will need to replace junior place-kicker Timothy Weishaupt, an exchange student from Germany who is attending Centennial for one year.
"We played a lot of different guys and fortunately we have the bulk of our nucleus coming back next year," Goosby said. "We have good reason to be excited about our future, but our kids need to understand that we have a lot of work to do to become a better team."
Girls runners again won league
The girls cross country team's season "ended up pretty well," according to coach Rhonda Reese, and included the Stars' sixth consecutive City League title.
Centennial scored 33 points to win the City meet Oct. 9 ahead of host Whetstone (41), Northland (97), Walnut Ridge (111), Africentric (117) and Eastmoor Academy (179).
Junior Kate Ryan won the meet for the third consecutive year, finishing in 20:03, while freshman Alexis Vance-Town-send (third, 21:25), freshman Jaleah Fair-Harris (fourth, 21:25) and senior Emiyah Kelly (sixth, 21:56) also earned first-team all-league honors. Freshman Aiyanna Howard (21st, 24:49) rounded out the Stars' scoring.
The Stars then finished 12th (341) in the 17-team Division I, district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial behind champion Upper Arlington (64) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Competing were Ryan (25th, 20:27.47), Fair-Harris (59th, 21:47.5), Vance-Townsend (60th, 21:48.32), Howard (97th, 24:48.53), freshman Shannon Branch (100th, 25:42.02) and freshman Shelby Tour (108th, 26:52.55).
"We talked about (the) City (meet) all season and the girls worked very hard and really wanted to win," Reese said. "Our future looks very exciting. On the girls side, we have five freshmen who were consistently on varsity this year. ... Also, Kate will be returning as our front-runner, which will help the team immensely next year. "
The boys team finished second (74) in the City meet behind Whetstone (33) and ahead of Eastmoor (93), Walnut Ridge (142), Columbus International (145), Mifflin (160), Africentric (163), Northland (182) and Marion-Franklin (258).
Senior Kevin Adams won for the second consecutive year, finishing in 16:54 to earn first-team all-league. Junior Noah Davis (13th, 19:18) was second-team all-league.
Rounding out the Stars' scoring were freshman Dallas Gordon (17th, 19:41), sophomore Callan Reese (20th, 19:48) and junior Brian May (24th, 20:15).
The Stars then finished 11th (316) in the 14-team district 1 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (29) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional.
Competing were Adams (22nd, 17:20.27), Gordon (71st, 19:52.39), sophomore Devante' Brown (72nd, 20:00.95), senior Glauco Fontgalland (75th, 20:21.88), May (79th, 20:36.33), Reese (80th, 20:59.03) and sophomore Laith Bain (86th, 21:31.85).
"The boys got second in the City, which we were very excited about, especially because a couple of them were suffering injuries at that point in the season," coach Reese said. "The biggest disappointment this season, however, was that nobody got out of the district to qualify to regional.
"For the boys, losing Kevin will be a big hit. But seeing how hard these boys worked this year tells me that they will all step it up next year and we will still have a good season. Noah showed a lot of potential this year and I definitely see him as our new front-runner."