Finally, the WarEagle trophy belongs to the Westerville Central High School football team.
The Warhawks defeated visiting Big Walnut 27-16 on Friday, Aug. 26, in the opener for both teams, marking their first victory in the series. Central had lost its first eight games against the Golden Eagles, dating to its first season in 2003.
"It's the first time we've ever beaten them," Central quarterback Cody Kondas said. "Nobody gave us any (chance) this time, either. Everyone expected us to lose once again. But we played all four quarters and did everything we practiced all summer and we got the job done."
Kondas completed 10 of 16 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Wide receiver Max Shawver caught both touchdown passes.
"I think our guys willed themselves to win," said Central coach John Magistro, whose team lost 28-26 to Big Walnut last season after squandering a 20-0 halftime lead. "We talk about how we find ways to lose games instead of winning them, and (winning those games) was our goal this year."
Central led 14-10 at halftime and stretched its lead to 21-10 with 7 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run by Kondas. Big Walnut made it 21-16 on the ensuing possession on a 60-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Beam to wide receiver Jordan Stimmel.
Central responded on its next possession with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kondas to Shawver with 3:50 left to go ahead 27-16. Big Walnut did not threaten to score again.
Big Walnut opened the scoring with a 52-yard run by Beam with 35 seconds left in the first quarter. Central tied the game at 7 when Kondas connected with Shawver on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:00 left in the second quarter.
Big Walnut went ahead 10-7 on a 31-yard field goal by Corey Gibson with 2:33 left in the second quarter, but Central responded with a 5-yard touchdown run by Kondas with 29 seconds left in the half.
"They did a good job mixing things up front and we never got into a good rhythm," Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver said of Central. "They're a heck of a ball team and they played a heck of a game."
BIG WALNUT 0 10 0 6 -- 16
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL 0 14 0 13 -- 27
BW--Beam 52 run (Gibson kick)
WC--Shawver 10 pass from Kondas (Munn kick)
BW--Gibson 31 FG
WC--Kondas 5 run (Munn kick)
WC--Kondas 19 run (Munn kick)
BW--Stimmel 60 pass from Beam (pass failed)
WC--Shawver 21 pass from Kondas (kick failed)