Tigers motivated by opening loss
Despite giving up 21 points in the second quarter and seeing a late rally come up short in an opening 38-33 loss at Centerville on Aug. 30, the Pickerington High School Central football team never has doubted its defensive capabilities.
The Tigers got back on track during a 39-14 win over visiting Middletown on Sept. 13 after having a second-week bye and hope to take that momentum into OCC-Ohio Division play.
On Friday, Sept. 20, Central opens the league schedule at Lancaster.
"We definitely had a bad taste in our mouth (after losing the opener) and it drove us," senior two-way lineman Vince Lewis said. "We missed a lot of tackles in that game and I think we addressed that in practice. More than anything physical, the camaraderie we have with this group this year is really good."
While seniors Jordan Pieczynski (DB) and Isaiah Richmond (LB) and junior Eric Marshall (DB) are the most experienced players on defense, Lewis is among a group of seniors that also includes cornerback Rudy Stefanitsis and safety Vinnie Allen.
Lewis, who starts at left guard on offense, missed all of last season after tearing his left ACL during a preseason practice.
Lancaster often ends up in tight games against the Tigers.
Although Central has won the last three meetings, it escaped with a 14-10 win last season and lost 17-14 to the Golden Gales in 2009 for its only regular-season loss.
The Gales beat Canal Winchester 37-14 on Sept. 13 and are 2-1.
While Lewis is confident in a Tigers offensive line that also includes seniors Brennan Dudziak, Josh Clouse and Tyler Boyd and junior DaVon Hamilton, Lancaster's top player is senior right guard and defensive tackle Kyle Trout.
Trout, who is 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, has verbally committed to Ohio State.
Central scored 36 points during the middle quarters against Middletown. Senior quarterback Colby Simkins was 7-for-17 passing for 125 yards with two touchdowns. Senior running back Tawain Gordon rushed for 83 yards, and Richmond had two scoring runs and one receiving touchdown.
Lancaster dominated Canal Winchester with 403 yards of offense, including 327 rushing. Running back Isaiah Dexter rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns.
The Gales had 572 yards in a 57-7 victory over Logan on Aug. 30 as a backfield led by running backs Jared Thompson and Jerry King and quarterback Alex Butsko rushed for 520.
North opens league play against Newark
What occurred with 7 minutes, 5 seconds left in North's 47-22 win over Cincinnati Princeton on Sept. 6 proved to be a nice reward for senior Frankie Weirick and his teammates on defense.
On third down, Princeton quarterback Tyrell Gilbert threw a pass that Weirick, a defensive end, batted off the back of senior defensive lineman Geno Rollo. Weirick then caught the ball and returned it 20 yards for his first touchdown this season.
"It was the best," he said.
The Panthers, who opened with a 20-0 win over St. Charles on Aug. 30, caused five more turnovers in a 60-27 win over Fremont Ross on Sept. 13.
North will try to continue its solid defensive start when it travels Friday, Sept. 20, to Newark for its OCC-Ohio opener.
Weirick is among the most experienced players on a North defense that also features senior Dylan Weigel at linebacker, Rollo and senior Alex Reigle on the line and senior Tony Welch and junior Ronald Bonner in the secondary.
Welch and Bonner also had interceptions against Princeton.
"We have most of our defense returning and we all understand where everyone is going to be," Weirick said. "We've got a lot of athletes like Tony Welch and the coaches have really been getting us ready."
North piled up 522 yards against Fremont Ross. Senior running back Jabree Lather, who played for Ross last year before transferring in the offseason, rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Zeph Miller was 16-for-23 passing for 284 yards with four touchdowns and one interception and rushed for 123 yards and two scores on 11 attempts.
"Jabree gave us a lot of help," Weirick said. "There's nothing better than having a player on your team who played for the other team last year."
Newark lost to Logan 32-27 on Sept. 13 and is 0-3.
The Wildcats also came up just short in a 42-35 loss Sept. 6 to Westerville North as senior quarterback Grant Russell was 24-for-47 passing for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Dasanto Daniels rushed for 119 yards and one score.