Morris helping solidify defense
With linebackers such as 2013 graduates Nick King, Jacob Matuska and Ja'Wuan Woodley leading its defense the previous two seasons, the Hartley High School football team stood toe-to-toe with nearly every opponent it faced in terms of being physical.
The Hawks are focusing this season on what coach Brad Burchfield calls a "team defense" approach, centering on having every player be more persistent at making tackles.
One constant in both tactics has been senior Kalil Morris, who is in his third season as a starting defensive end.
Even including a 41-16 loss to defending Division V state champion Coldwater on Sept. 6, Hartley is allowing just 14.8 points per game.
The Hawks beat Watterson 35-14 on Oct. 4 and are 5-1 entering their game Friday, Oct. 11, at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Luers.
"Our defense is very different from last year's team," Morris said. "Last year was more of a physical defense. This year is more of a 100 percent collective effort. This team is a little faster and we (stop the) gap better."
The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Morris has made the transition this fall from weakside defensive end to the strong side, where one of his duties is cutting off the tight end.
Morris, who has verbally committed to Kent State, said he also has tried to embrace more of a leadership role considering he's the most experienced player on the Hawks' defense.
"I feel like the biggest thing that has changed for me is leadership," Morris said.
"My sophomore year I was more of a quiet person."
Morris and junior Tayron Washington (6-2, 240), who starts at weakside defensive end, give Burchfield a pair of players he believes he can depend on to help stop opposing running games.
"(Morris is) big, strong and has got a good motor, and we have his clone, Tayron Washington, on the other side at defensive end," Burchfield said. "They're not just big kids but they move well.
"Kalil is kind of (unusual because) he's so athletic, he's so big and has such long arms."
The Hawks' next task defensively will be Luers, which has won four consecutive Indiana 2A state titles but is 0-7.
The Knights fired Matt Lindsay as coach in the middle of last season and replaced him with Lindsay's son, Kyle Lindsay, who has remained the coach.
Senior Quinn Cook and sophomore Noah Wezensky have split time at quarterback.
Luers' most dangerous offensive player could be Austin Mack, a 6-2, 185-pound wide receiver who has offers from Cincinnati and Indiana despite being just a sophomore.
The Hawks are on a four-game winning streak.
"I think we're in a great spot," Morris said. "We kind of needed the (Coldwater game) to get us to where we want to go. We have a tough schedule."
Wairegi competes in district golf tourney
Sophomore Salmika Wairegi became what is believed to be the first Hartley girl to advance to the district golf tournament when she shot an 84 on Oct. 1 in a Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial.
Also competing for the Hawks at sectional was senior Kristen Culbertson, who shot a 111.
Wairegi played in the district tournament Oct. 8 at The Links at Groveport. The top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Wairegi and Culbertson played on the boys team during the regular season.
"The Watterson coach (Rick McQuade) was telling me he hadn't ever even seen a Hartley girl (in a postseason tournament) and he's been there for a few years," coach Dan DeCrane said.
"We had two girls participating, so it's good to see her get out."
Boys golf season ends at district
The boys golf season ended Sept. 30 in the Division II district tournament at River Greens.
Senior Cameron Ball shot an 84 and sophomore Chris Williard carded an 87 as both came up short of advancing to state.
On Sept. 24, the Hawks finished fourth (336) in an 11-team sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire, as the top three teams advanced to district. Bloom-Carroll shot a 333 to earn the final district-qualifying berth.
Williard shot an 81 and Ball an 83 to advance individually. Junior Jack Casebolt (85) and senior Nick Ozarzak (87) had the Hawks' other scores. Freshman Jared Ozarzak was disqualified for an illegal ball drop.
"It was just kind of a bummer for (Jared), but we didn't really play that well as a team," DeCrane said. "We had two individuals get to go to district. Jared's going to be a good player."
Ball and Nick Ozarzak will be the biggest losses from a team that should return Casebolt, Jared Ozarzak, Williard and freshman Brice Twente, who was the No. 6 player.
Girls tennis season ends at sectional
After having the Division II state singles champion a year ago in 2013 graduate Rachael Morales, the girls tennis team was unable to advance any players to district from the Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Pickerington Central.
In singles, sophomore Madeleine McDonald lost in the second round, junior Annie Resetar lost in the first round and junior Megan Resetar fell in the play-in round.
Senior Carlissa Fells and freshman Katherine Crosswell lost in the second round in doubles and senior Jalissa Howard and sophomore Abby Gold lost in the first round.