The Westland High School football team will be looking to salvage what it considers a disappointing season when it plays host to Central Crossing on Friday, Oct. 26, in its season finale.
The Cougars were 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Upper Arlington on Oct. 19. Central Crossing also was 1-7 and 0-5 before playing Marysville on Oct. 19.
"It's definitely a rivalry game and I'm ready to get the win," senior offensive lineman Cory Beasy said. "This win won't make up for the losses that we have, but it would definitely boost a lot of people's confidence on the team because it is Central Crossing and it's the one win that a lot of people want to get."
Westland entered its game against UA having lost 35 consecutive league games, with its last win coming against Hilliard Darby, 46-29 on Oct. 20, 2006.
The Cougars are 0-3 all-time against Central Crossing, including a 34-12 loss last season.
"It's always great to end the season on a positive and that's a great springboard into the winter and into weightlifting," coach Steve White said. "It's something to look back on 10, 20 years from now."
Westland opened with a 32-27 win over the Columbus Crusaders on Aug. 26 but had lost seven consecutive games before playing UA, including a 69-13 league loss at Dublin Coffman on Oct. 12. Coffman was 8-0 before playing Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 19 and was ranked fourth in the Division I state poll last week.
Jalen Brown (49 yards) and Nick Green (6 yards) had fourth-quarter touchdown runs for Westland, which trailed 35-0 at halftime and 69-0 in the fourth quarter.
Myles Fowler, who broke the ring finger on his left hand during the preseason and saw limited playing time in the previous three games, played quarterback against Coffman, completing 12 of 24 passes for 97 yards with two interceptions.
Brown, who started at quarterback the first seven games, led the team in rushing through eight games with 1,203 yards and eight touchdowns on 182 carries.
"On offense, we need to minimize mistakes and penalties," Central Crossing coach Chris Harr said. "On defense, we need to stop both quarterbacks (Fowler and Brown). They are exceptional athletes who make great plays. They are as athletic as we have seen all year and they will be a challenge we'll need to be up for."
Central Crossing had lost five consecutive games before facing Marys-ville, with its lone win coming against Franklin Heights, 35-12 on Sept. 7.
The Comets lost to Thomas Worthington 28-27 in a league game Oct. 12.
Tory Clark scored on an 82-yard fumble return in the final minute to close Central Crossing's deficit to 28-27, but the Comets failed to complete a pass on the two-point conversion attempt.
Through eight games, Clark had a team-high 662 yards rushing on 81 carries, 30 receptions for 384 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Luke Duncan had completed 97 of 177 passes for 1,309 yards and Jakob Welch had 37 receptions for 456 yards.
"Their quarterback seems to be a big kid (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) and they do a nice job throwing the ball," White said. "Tory Clark is an amazing, exceptional athlete and he's a guy we definitely have to key on to have success in stopping them."
Cross country teams compete in OCC meet
The boys and girls cross country teams prepared for the Division I district meet held Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial by competing in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 13 at Darby.
"I've been very pleased with the teams' development through the league meet," coach Josh Barkeloo said. "Several athletes came through with personal records. Going into the meet, I told my team that they were going to be running their toughest meet of the year and all of my runners took that as a challenge to succeed."
The boys team finished eighth (226) in the league meet behind Hilliard Davidson (28), Liberty (39), Coffman (86), Thomas (128), UA (141), Marysville (142) and Central Crossing (210).
Seth Farmer led the Cougars, finishing 40th in 17 minutes, 20.61 seconds. Also competing were Andrew Ritchie (59th, 19:45.06), Bryce Long (60th, 19:56.09), Connor Scott (63rd, 20:31.64), Andrew Choate (64th, 20:59.9) and Kurt Guffey (66th, 22:04.86).
"For the boys, the league meet was the first time this season that we had three runners finish in under 20 minutes," Barkeloo said. "I've been working a lot on the mental approach to racing with my boys. We've been working a lot with their perspective of success. Sometimes on small teams you just race to be the best on your team and your top runners' time is considered the pinnacle. I've challenged them to look beyond that goal, to get a larger perspective of what running means to them. The result so far is large drops in times."
The girls team did not have enough runners for a team score in the league meet. Coffman was first (43), followed by Davidson (51), UA (51), Liberty (102), Thomas (107), Marysville (188) and Central Crossing (196).
Heidi Paxson led the Cougars, finishing 49th (22:09). Also competing were Elizabeth Finley (50th, 22:12.01), Haylee Brown (53rd, 22:53.18) and Lindsay Vachon (58th, 23:39.91).
"While we were unable to post a team score for the girls, I believe the team is moving in the right direction," Barkeloo said. "They are all improving and developing a winning attitude. We just need to get more girls out on the team. Once that happens, the team mentality is already in place. We are trying to establish a tradition of success and it starts now."
Both the boys and girls teams competed in the district 3 meet. The top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to the regional meet Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North, where the top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.