The way senior Jacob Mercier describes it, the Hartley High School football team got the ultimate jolt heading into the postseason with its 21-14 overtime win over Ready on Nov. 1 at Hilliard Bradley.
The Hawks will test that idea Saturday, Nov. 9, when they play host to Chillicothe Zane Trace in a first-round Division V, Region 17 playoff game.
"It gives us a heck of a lot of momentum," said Mercier, who had 117 yards in receptions and scored three touchdowns, including two rushing, against Ready.
Hartley improved to 9-1 with its third consecutive win over the Silver Knights while locking up the No. 1 seed in the region.
Zane Trace defeated Chillicothe Unioto 28-21 on Nov. 1 to earn the eighth seed.
The Hartley-Zane Trace winner plays fourth-seeded St. Clairsville or fifth-seeded Liberty Union in a regional semifinal Nov. 16.
While Mercier scored the winning touchdown against Ready on an 8-yard run, the Pioneers came out on top against Unioto despite allowing 452 yards.
On the same night Hartley won the CCL-Gold Division title, Zane Trace locked up a share of the Scioto Valley Conference championship.
Zane Trace running back Trey Rittenhouse had 202 yards and one touchdown rushing while running back Nate Mettler was limited to one carry because of an injury.
Hartley enters the postseason having gone 3-0 against CCL teams.
"I'm proud of our kids," coach Brad Burchfield said. "There's no disputing that we were the best team in the CCL in 2013 and that's a huge accomplishment."
Girls volleyball team falls to Tornadoes
Entering a Division II girls volleyball regional final Nov. 2 at Zanesville, Dover had lost only one game all season.
Hartley added to that total by winning the first game over the Tornadoes but couldn't keep it going in a 23-25, 28-26, 25-19, 25-16 loss.
The Hawks finished 20-7.
"We were prepared for them and we felt like we did a really good job for the seniors," junior middle hitter Madeline Brandewie said. "We fell away from our game plan and had too many errors to stay in the (match)."
Hartley followed its eighth district title in nine seasons by beating Jonathan Alder 25-13, 25-12, 25-11 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Zanesville.
Dover is 27-0 entering the state tournament.
"If we win that second (game), they would have been on the ropes," coach Mike Rahe said. "We just had too many hitting errors."
Franz takes 29th in state meet
For the third consecutive season, junior Emily Franz ended up close to earning all-state honors in the Division II girls state cross country meet.
On Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway, Franz finished in 19 minutes, 32 seconds to place 29th. She was 30th in 19:35.07 as a freshman and 28th in 19:17.65 a year ago.
Wauseon junior Taylor Vernot won the race in 18:04.4.
The top 25 runners earned all-state.
"It felt pretty rough," Franz said. "I wanted to start out not quite as fast as the first group and try to slowly come up. I came into it a little more prepared this year, but it's always a learning experience."
Most of girls soccer team should return
The girls soccer team's 3-1 Division II district semifinal loss Oct. 23 at fourth-seeded Bexley was a performance coach Scott Dempsey believes summed up the Hawks' improvement this fall.
"I think we got better," Dempsey said. "We battled from start to finish (against Bexley), and that was a foreign concept back in August."
The Hawks, who were seeded 11th and beat fifth-seeded Johnstown 4-1 in a second-round game Oct. 19, finished 2-8-7 overall.
Hartley went 1-2-1 in the CCL to place third behind Watterson (4-0) and DeSales (3-1) and ahead of Columbus School for Girls (1-3) and Ready (0-3-1).
The only senior starter was goalkeeper Nicole Weldon.
Junior forward McKenna Welsh, who was named the district's Player of the Year and first-team all-league and all-state, scored 18 of Hartley's 23 goals.
Junior defender Alex Orkis was a captain along with Welsh and Weldon. There were just two other juniors on a roster that featured eight sophomores and four freshmen.
"We had a young group this year, and to get to a district semifinal with only two wins and as the 11th seed, there's nothing for them to be disappointed about," Dempsey said.
Boys soccer team optimistic for future
Although the boys soccer team loses nine seniors, a strong freshman class has coach Chris Kowalski believing the Hawks might not be in for a rebuild next fall.
Hartley made it to a Division II district semifinal, where it lost to top-seeded Watterson 2-1 on Oct. 22 to finish 7-9-2 overall.
"This is the most injuries we've had in a season and I think a lot of young guys got experience," Kowalski said. "Half of our starting lineup was made of freshmen or sophomores."
Hartley placed fourth (1-2-1) in the CCL behind co-champions Watterson and St. Charles (3-1) as well as DeSales (2-1-1) and ahead of Ready (0-4).
The ninth-seeded Hawks beat 10th-seeded Centennial 3-1 in the second round of the district tournament to set up a rematch with Watterson, which they also lost to 3-0 on Sept. 5.
Freshman forward Mitchell Bergman scored on a penalty kick in the tournament loss and finished with a team-best 10 goals.
Freshman forward Justin Galant and junior midfielder Michael Anthony-Wood also were among the key contributors eligible to return.
Colin Barringer (midfielder) and Jacob Croswell (center back) led the senior class.