Football team faces moment of truth
The Reynoldsburg High School football team finds itself at a fork in the road as it enters its final non-league game Friday, Sept. 7, at Westerville North.
Throughout the preseason and during an opening 10-9 win over New Albany on Aug. 24, the Raiders showed the type of intensity and execution that they hope can lead them to new heights this season.
However, Reynoldsburg's performance in a 61-14 loss to visiting Findlay on Aug. 31 left coach Buddy White feeling "really shocked."
"I never in my wildest dreams thought we could play that bad," White said. "I challenged them (after the game) and said to them, 'Are we the team that played New Albany and in our scrimmages or are we the team that played (against Findlay)?' We're at a moment of truth. I'd like to think we're the team of New Albany and the two scrimmages."
Findlay, which edged Reynoldsburg 17-16 a year ago, wasted no time taking the lead in the rematch as Vance Settlemire returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The Trojans led 41-0 at halftime.
"That was by far the best team I've ever coached against," White said. "The thing about it was that it was the best week of practice we've had. We had a great game plan and the kids were so ready. When they ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown, it let the air out of the balloon."
According to White, it was a perplexing performance that he hopes won't carry over to the game against Westerville North. The Warriors have lost 37 consecutive games, including a 41-7 loss to Grove City on Aug. 31.
"(Westerville North has) lost a lot of football games, and that's well-documented, but once they look at this film they'll look at it as an opportunity because they saw a team that can play truly bad football," White said. "Those kids are going to be fired up and we have to be careful of our preparation and that we'll get back on track. Our focus is going to be more on us than Westerville North."
Running back Kumar Collins, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season but did not play in the opener because of a shoulder injury, rushed 11 times for 29 yards against Findlay.
The Raiders scored their only touchdowns during the second half when quarterback Jordan Aekins connected with wide receiver Tyree Tate on a 55-yard pass in the third quarter and running back Dionta Brown had a 51-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"Kumar got some reps, but unfortunately the way they jumped on us kind of took us out of the game," White said.
North lost its first two games under first-year coach Rodger Elander. The Warriors fell to Franklin Heights 21-14 in their opener Aug. 24.
Against Franklin Heights, quarterback Austin Smales hit wide receiver Moses Vasquez for a 42-yard touchdown pass and running back Jonathan Taylor scored on a 3-yard run. North's only score against Grove City came on a 74-yard run by Taylor in the third quarter.
Tennis team prepares for doubles tourney
The girls tennis team will try to improve on its fourth-place finish from a year ago when it plays host to the sixth-annual Raiders Doubles Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The defending champion, Olentangy Orange, is back. Also expected to compete in the event are DeSales, Gahanna, Granville, Thomas Worthington, Watkins Memorial and Wellington.
"It really is a sweet tournament," coach Les Somogyi said. "Third place is the best we've ever done, which is great because it gives you a challenge and makes you humble. I don't want to play teams that you can roll over. I want good matches."
The Raiders were 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing host to Gahanna on Sept. 4. They beat the Lions 3-2 in the first round of the Division I Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament Aug. 29.
Reynoldsburg opened OCC-Ohio play with a 5-0 win over Grove City on Aug. 21 but lost by the same score to Pickerington Central on Aug. 28.
Somogyi has been pleased with the competitiveness of senior Rebecca Kibe at second singles and junior Keisha Cummings at third singles.
"Two of my girls are just out of this world," Somogyi said. "Keisha Cummings at third singles is relentlessly competitive and is just a winner. Keisha was in track and is lightning quick, so quick that nothing goes by her. Rebecca Kibe at second singles just hates losing. They all hate losing, but this girl really shows it. She is all over the court. Those two are just an example of a coach's dream.
"We know where our challenges are after the first 10 minutes of a match. For me as a coach, the team is the most important thing. It's a hard thing for them to grasp because they all want to do well on their own court. Every single day I'm trying to reinforce the team concept."