By season's end, a few juniors and several sophomores were receiving playing time for the Reynoldsburg High School football team.
That's not a knock on the 31-member senior class, said sophomore Conner McCloud, who saw extensive action at quarterback the last four games.
"Our underclassmen are very excited," McCloud said. "We played a lot of sophomores and juniors and we're excited to get them back. I think our record doesn't tell how good we were this year. With the senior leadership we had, I think our (seniors) did a good job of promoting the fact that we were going to finish the season strong."
The Raiders posted their third consecutive non-losing season under coach Buddy White, going 5-5 overall and tying Gahanna and Lancaster for fourth in the OCC-Ohio Division at 3-4, behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (6-1) and Grove City (5-2). Newark and Groveport tied for seventh at 1-6.
Reynoldsburg bounced back from an opening 38-20 loss to eventual Division II playoff qualifier New Albany on Aug. 30 to win its next three, but consecutive losses to Pickerington Central (28-17 on Sept. 27), Gahanna (31-14 on Oct. 4), Pickerington North (20-3 on Oct. 11) and Lancaster (33-21 on Oct. 18) ended its playoff hopes.
The Raiders finished 21st in Division I, Region 2. The top 16 teams made the postseason.
The biggest loss is senior Solomon Grace (TE/LB), who made first-team all-league and led in tackles with 86.
"We were a young team from the beginning this year, especially on defense," Grace said. "We only had two returning starters (on defense) in myself and Tyrek Pugh. There were a lot of sophomores and juniors who got experience this year."
Other seniors included first-team all-league selections Anthony Hines (OL/DL) and Andrew Tate (TE/LB), second-team all-league choices Jake Grant (OL/DL) and Jordan Aekins (QB/DB) and Pugh (RB/DB), who was special mention all-league.
Senior running back David Moore led in rushing with 1,030 yards and eight touchdowns, all coming in the first eight games.
Senior running back Zack Mehan, who rushed for 570 yards and seven scores, was honorable mention all-league.
Aekins completed 24 of 69 passes for 528 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for five scores, with most of those totals coming in the first six games. He also started in the secondary.
Senior Demetris Givens (WR/DB) was the leading receiver with 13 catches for 467 yards and four touchdowns, and senior Corey Beal (DL) led in tackles for loss with 10. Senior Andrew Norman (WR/DB) had three interceptions.
In the Raiders' 30-14 win over Groveport to close the season Nov. 1, sophomore running back Cameron Young rushed for 128 yards and one touchdown and junior Ashton Dulin (WR/DB) had an interception.
Dulin, who finished with three interceptions, should be back to lead the secondary. Junior Gary Boggs should be a key returnee at linebacker.
Junior Christian Eubanks (OL/DL) was second-team all-league. Juniors Mike Harville and Eric Kannable and sophomores Darius Dunning and Mark Gooden got experience on the offensive and defensive lines.
McCloud was one of the team's leading tacklers through six games at defensive back but spent most of the last four games at quarterback, where he completed 14 of 38 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns.
Junior Andrew Callender (WR/DB) contributed nine catches for 107 yards. Junior Derien Jennings (WR/DB) and sophomore Amos Paasewe (RB/DB) are others eligible to return.
"I am incredibly excited about next year's team," said White, who is 18-12 in three seasons. "We knew this could be a tough year because of inexperience and we hit a four-game skid, but we could have easily tanked it without the proper leadership. I really am feeling good about next year's team because we've got good leadership coming up."