If there's a silver lining in the 0-3 start for the Dublin Jerome High School football team, it's that there is a chance for a fresh start with the beginning of league play next week.
"The 'pre' part of the season didn't go the way we wanted it to with us not winning a game, but it's league time now," said coach Mark Hundley, whose squad fell to host Groveport 20-13 on Friday, Sept. 9. "Now it's time to step up and go try to win a league championship."
The Celtics open OCC-Cardinal Division play as host to Westerville North, which fell to Olentangy Orange 35-7 for its 28th consecutive loss.
The Cruisers improved to 2-1 and will open their OCC-Ohio schedule at Pickerington North, which improved to 3-0 with a 33-0 victory over Northland.
Defensive back Zach Green ended the Celtics' final attempt by intercepting a pass by Jerome quarterback Joe Bano that was tipped, and the Cruisers ran out the clock.
Jerome got a quick start as Donovan Wilson went 86 yards on the Celtics' second play from scrimmage to for a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes, 24 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Wilson was held reasonably in check the remainder of the game as he finished with 188 yards on 25 carries but did not score again.
Cruisers coach Tim Brown said he was pleased with the performance of his defense -- after giving up the early score.
"We had a blitz right off the bat that went to the wrong side and they gashed us for a big one," he said. "We made some adjustments and came back and played with a lot of heart. (Jerome) did a lot of things that messed us up. We've just got to tighten up a little bit, but we're young and we're getting better and better."
The Cruisers took a 14-7 lead just before the half when Melvin Smith scored on a 1-yard run.
Groveport built on its lead early in the third quarter after Jerome's Cam Willms fumbled the second-half kickoff and the Cruisers' Markus Tanksley made the recovery.
Two plays later, quarterback Shane Denny hit Wyatt Hikins for a 31-yard scoring pass.
The Celtics closed to 20-13 when Brett Mowery scored from 2 yards in the third quarter.
Despite the loss, Coach Hundley has noticed weekly improvement from his team that he feels will serve as good momentum going forward into league play.
"Every week, we've gotten better and if we keep getting better, we've got a shot," he said.
JEROME 7 0 6 0 --- 13
GROVEPORT 0 14 6 0 --- 20
J--D. Wilson 86 run (Keller kick)
G--McLean 6 run (Jones kick)
G--Smith 1 run (Jones kick)
G--Hikins 31 pass from Denny (kick failed)
J--Mowery 2 run (kick failed)