After watching his team open with three non-league wins, Westland High School boys soccer coach Dan Heckler warned his players that OCC-Central Division opponents would provide more of a challenge.
That proved to be the case, as the Cougars began league play with a 2-0 loss to visiting Marysville on Aug. 28.
Westland's next league game is Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Thomas Worthington.
"Every Tuesday from now on is OCC and now some of the newer players are realizing what that means to have to play in a league game," Heckler said.
As part of OCC alignment this summer, Marysville and Olentangy Liberty moved into the OCC-Central and Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne switched from the OCC-Central to the OCC-Cardinal.
Marysville finished 0-6-1 in the OCC-Cardinal last season, while Westland went 1-6 in the OCC-Central.
Cory Roeth scored both goals for Marysville in the second half and Monarchs goalkeeper Corey Mankins had five saves. Senior goalie Shawn Draper had seven saves for the Cougars.
Westland won two of its first three games by shutout, defeating Grove City Christian 6-0 on Aug. 21 and Whetstone 3-0 on Aug. 25. The Cougars also beat Hamilton Township, 2-1 on Aug. 18.
Through four games, Draper had 22 saves and senior midfielder Eric Quiroz had a team-high five goals.
"I'm happy with a lot of the stuff I'm seeing," Heckler said. "Of course, you don't like a losing result, but I'm happy with a lot of stuff that we saw in the (Marysville) game. We played our game well against the first three teams and then we hit this OCC competition and we have to just play that same game better."
Football team preparing to face Hilliard Bradley
Football coach Steve White hasn't forgotten his team's 64-0 loss to Hilliard Bradley last season. It was the second of nine consecutive losses for the Cougars and the first of five shutout losses in a row.
Westland has an opportunity to redeem itself when it visits Bradley on Friday, Sept. 7.
Bradley opened with a 17-10 win over Marysville on Aug. 24 and played Teays Valley on Aug. 31. Against the Monarchs, quarterback Tommy Horn completed six of 12 passes for 112 yards and scored on a 7-yard run.
"I know Bradley played a tough game week one," White said. "Bradley is going to be ready to go like we are. Stopping that option (offense) is a tough thing. They do a great job with it."
Westland opened with a 32-27 win over the Columbus Crusaders on Aug. 24.
Senior Jalen Brown started for injured quarterback Myles Fowler and led the Cougars, running for 246 yards on 25 carries and completing seven of 13 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
"Brown performed like a veteran," White said. "He had a great game. He had almost 400 yards total (360) himself. The offense is designed for that kind of quarterback. A quick, smart guy who can read those things, and that really helps out."
Fowler broke the ring finger on his left hand during the preseason and his status for the remainder of the season is uncertain.
Senior running back Mike Jackson ran for 111 yards on 22 carries, as the Cougars amassed 372 yards rushing on 49 carries.
Westland played Mifflin on Aug. 31.
Girls volleyball team opens season with loss
The girls volleyball team opened Aug. 28 with a 25-20, 25-14, 16-25, 25-16 loss to visiting Marysville in an OCC-Central match.
Against the Monarchs, freshman outside hitter Jenna Panning had 14 kills and six blocks, senior outside hitter Bianca Anderson had 10 kills and 10 blocks and sophomore middle hitter Kyleigh Jackson had 13 blocks.
"Marysville seems like they're pretty tough," coach Eric Hughes said. "It's good to see. We like the competition. We'll definitely be more ready for them later in the season."
Westland travels to Marysville on Sept. 20 in the second round of league play.
"This team has huge potential," Hughes said. "Half the team is underclassmen and we have a lot of great senior leaders on the team, so that kind of helps them out."