Though it dropped its opener, coach Brian Smith can sense a new attitude with his Westland High School football team.

Though it dropped its opener, coach Brian Smith can sense a new attitude with his Westland High School football team.

The Cougars will hit the road for the first time when they visit Walnut Ridge on Friday.

Westland, which played Cleveland John Marshall last Saturday, opened with a 28-7 loss to Watkins Memorial on Aug. 22.

Walnut Ridge, which fell to St. Charles 26-20 in its opener, took on Mifflin last Friday.

Walnut Ridge cruised past Westland 49-0 last season, but Smith expects a much closer game in the rematch.

The Scots went on to finish 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the City League-South Division behind Marion-Franklin (7-0) and Eastmoor (6-1). Walnut Ridge won five of its final six games.

Senior running back Brandon Rice (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) is expected to lead the Scots. Last season, he rushed for 1,399 yards and 14 touchdowns. Against St. Charles, Rice returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score.

Also back for Walnut Ridge is quarterback Alvin Busbee (6-1, 175), who threw for more than 1,000 yards with 17 touchdowns last season.

"They're usually one of the top programs in the City League," Smith said. "This year they have a lot of key returnees, especially at their skilled positions. Their quarterback and their running back are very good. ... (Coach Byron Mattox) does a great job there. It will be tough, but they all are."

Westland turned in a strong defensive effort against Watkins Memorial. The Cougars allowed 220 yards and denied Watkins on all 11 third-down conversion attempts.

Westland committed costly turnovers, including two that led to two scores. The Cougars managed just 115 yards in total offense,

"You never want to lose and in the end we lost on the scoreboard, but coming from where we came last year, we were competitive for four quarters," Smith said. "I thought minus a few correctable mistakes here and there, we played well enough to win, so that was encouraging."

The boys soccer team will face another challenge in the OCC-Central Division when it plays host to Dublin Coffman on Tuesday. The Cougars were 1-1 before playing Teays Valley last Saturday, with the loss to Hilliard Davidson 6-0 last Tuesday at Davidson.

Coffman was 1-0-1 entering its game against DeSales last Thursday. Last season, the Shamrocks won a district title before falling to eventual state champion Davidson 2-1 in a Division I regional semifinal.

"Coffman is going to be tough, too," coach Dan Heckler said. "They're going to come at us as hard as Davidson did. We have to play harder."

Westland will round out the week with a home game against Centennial on Thursday and a road game against Whetstone on Saturday.

The golf team will return to action on Thursday against Westerville South and Central Crossing at Oakhurst. The teams met last Tuesday with South scoring 357, Central Crossing 360 and Westland 377. Matt Weiner was medalist for the Cougars with an 84.

Weiner has been the team's top golfer all season, including a 43 in a 158-188 loss to Grove City on Aug. 21 and a 46 in a 177-199 loss to Gahanna last Wednesday.

"Our big problem is inexperience," coach Brad Kramer said. "You can see them hitting the ball a little bit better, you can see them putting a little better, but they're just not managing the course well enough right now to score much better."

The boys and girls cross country teams will run Saturday in the McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial.

The boys team finished 12th (294 points) of 15 teams at the Canal Winchester Invitational last Wednesday. Bexley took first (42). Jordan Harris led Westland, finishing 16th in a personal-best 17:57.

"Jordan had a breakout race that is definitely going to be one of the races that I will remember 20 years from now," coach Joshua Barkeloo said. "He entirely skipped over the 18-minute range for 3.1 miles and cracked into the 17s. He has already surpassed our goals for him for the entire season."

The girls also took 12th (331) behind first-place Canal Winchester (31). Brooke Harris was 32nd (22:10) for Westland.

"As far as team scoring goes, we still need to get our Nos.4-7 to pick up that pace and start challenging each other," Barkeloo said. "Through competition will come greater success, not just individually but for the team as well."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Westland tennis and volleyball teams:

TENNIS

*Last Tuesday -- Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 5-0

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

Of note: The Cougars are 0-3 overall and in the OCC-Central.

VOLLEYBALL

*Last Tuesday -- Lost to Hilliard Davidson 22-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-15

Last Wednesday -- Lost to Hartley 25-7, 25-12, 25-15

*Last Thursday -- Played Dublin Coffman

*Tuesday -- At Worthington Kilbourne

*Thursday -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

Of note: The Cougars were 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before last Thursday.

*OCC-Central match