Kyle Goebbel is looking forward to his first game as Westland High School football coach.
The Cougars play host to Eastmoor Academy on Friday, Aug. 29, in their opener.
Goebbel, who was the offensive coordinator at Olentangy from 2009-12 and was the quarterbacks coach at Olentangy Orange last season, replaced Steve White during the offseason.
White was 3-27 overall and 0-21 in the OCC-Central Division in three seasons with the Cougars.
"We definitely want to get going," Goebbel said. "It's sort of getting to the grind part, so we want that game schedule (to begin) and be able to see where we're at in terms of what we're doing against each other."
Westland and Eastmoor met last season, with the Warriors winning 42-7. The Cougars lead the all-time series 6-1, with their last win coming in 2006 (35-28). That season also marks the last time Westland has qualified for the playoffs.
Eastmoor, which is a member of the City League-South Division, went 6-4 last season. The Warriors missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season after making four postseason appearances in a row from 2008-11. They reached the Division III state final in 2008, losing to Aurora 21-10.
"Eastmoor has been one of the best City League teams since I've been around," Goebbel said. "We always scrimmaged them when I was at Olentangy, so I know how good of a team they are. They're definitely a tough team and they beat Westland pretty good last year."
Eastmoor had been utilizing a power-running game before switching to a spread offense last season to highlight its skill players and help develop a young offensive line that is expected to be one of the best in the City League this season.
Senior quarterback Tyler Simmons (6-foot-3, 170 pounds), who missed the final seven games a year ago because of injury, returns to lead the Warriors.
Seniors Jaylen Belcher (5-9, 160) and Dominic Smith (5-8, 185) are key running backs and senior George Daniels IV (6-2, 170) and junior Terry Johnson (6-1, 160) are expected to be the Warriors' top receivers.
Eastmoor will look to take advantage of its speed as it shifts from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme.
Senior nose guard Chauncey Coleman (6-0, 295) is expected to anchor the line, with juniors Jeffrey Owens (6-1, 230) and David Via (5-10, 215) being key linebackers.
"Eastmoor has speed and they have size," Goebbel said. "They basically have both things you want -- size up front and a lot of speed on the perimeter."
For Westland, junior Clay Carrel (6-0, 175) returns at quarterback to guide the pistol offense.
Senior running back Reggie Gilliam, who had 21 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns last season, and senior wide receiver Dominick Thomas, who had 23 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown, should be top threats.
Gilliam also will play a key role at linebacker in the team's 3-4 defense.
"It's game (No.) 1 and we can't do anything to hurt ourselves when it comes to turning the ball over, missed assignments, special teams, all that stuff. We can't do anything like that," Goebbel said. "Offensively, we definitely have to be able to run the ball and control the possession. On defense, we just have to be aggressive and make tackles when we're in position to make tackles and have all 11 guys run to the ball."
Boys soccer team out to rough start
Despite losing its first two games, 11th-year boys soccer coach Dan Heckler believes his team can improve on last season.
Westland opened Aug. 16 with a 2-1 loss at Hamilton Township and fell to Grandview 5-1 on Aug. 18 at home.
Junior midfielder Marco Santiago scored and junior goalkeeper Wyatt Sheline had five saves against Hamilton Township. Against Grandview, freshman midfielder Juan Garcia scored and Sheline had four saves.
"It's been a rough start," Heckler said. "Our results were very disappointing. We have to go back to basics and get basic soccer right again."
Westland finished 8-9-1 overall last season and went 1-6 in the OCC-Central to place seventh, behind champion Dublin Coffman (6-1). The Cougars begin league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Marysville.
"It's the toughest (league) in central Ohio, if not all of Ohio," Heckler said.
Westland has returned 14 players, including Santiago and Sheline, who has replaced 2014 graduate Jonathan Olvera, who had 133 saves last season.
The other returnees are seniors Mahamud Barood (midfielder), Jose Garcia (midfielder), Ruben Garcia (defender), Luke Klatt (forward/defender), Emmanuel Reyes (defender), Jose Santiago (defender) and Van Thang (midfielder) and juniors Mohamed Abubakar (forward), Tyler Hoffman (midfielder), Chris Jackson (midfielder), Danny Reyes (defender) and Juan Rios (forward).
Also on the team are seniors Van Hmung (forward/midfielder) and Hever Solano (defender), sophomore Elliott Loless (midfielder) and freshman Gabriel Spindola (midfielder).
Jose Garcia, Klatt and Emmanuel Reyes are captains.
Last season, Reyes was honorable mention all-league and Rios had a team-high 12 goals.
Volleyball team has solid nucleus
With senior Kyleigh Jackson and junior Jenna Panning leading his team, third-year girls volleyball coach Eric Hughes is optimistic about the season.
Westland opened Aug. 16 in a quad-match at Westerville North, defeating Watkins Memorial 25-23, 25-20 and losing to North 25-21, 26-24 and Reynoldsburg 25-16, 20-25, 26-24.
The Cougars were 1-2 before opening OCC-Central play Aug. 21 against Marysville.
"I was pleased with certain parts and disappointed with others," Hughes said. "I definitely saw some things to work on. I felt like the girls responded well in practice this (past) week and we're understanding how serious this season can be and that was a wake-up call, which is good to get out of the way this early in the season."
Last season, Westland finished 9-14 overall and placed sixth in the OCC-Central at 5-9, behind champion Coffman (14-0).
Panning, a setter and outside hitter, had 310 digs, 246 kills, 41 blocks and 40 aces last season and was named first-team all-league. Jackson, a middle blocker and four-year starter, had 152 kills, 113 blocks and 22 aces and was second-team all-league.
Also back are seniors Erin Bower (libero/defensive specialist), Colleen Guffey (libero/defensive specialist), Jackie Harris (middle blocker), Abigail McCormick (outside hitter) and Taylor Mitchell (outside hitter).
Rounding out the team are juniors Michaela McLean (setter), Hannah Mundy (right-side hitter) and Abigale Stevens (right-side hitter).
Guffey and Panning are captains.
"It's going to be a good year if we can keep everybody healthy," Hughes said.
Aug. 16 -- at Hamilton Township
Aug. 18 -- vs. Grandview
Aug. 23 -- at Whetstone
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Marysville
Aug. 28 -- at Pickerington Central
*Sept. 2 -- at Thomas Worthington
Sept. 6 -- at Tree of Life
*Sept. 9 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 18 -- vs. Grove City
Sept. 20 -- vs. Groveport
*Sept. 23 -- at Dublin Coffman
Sept. 25 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Sept. 30 -- at Upper Arlington
Oct. 4 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Central Crossing
Aug. 16 -- at Westerville North with Reynoldsburg and Watkins Memorial
*Aug. 21 -- vs. Marysville
Aug. 23 -- Karen Wohrer Invitational at Lancaster
*Aug. 26 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 28 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 4 -- at Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 9 -- at Upper Arlington
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Sept. 16 -- at Marysville
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 20 -- Home vs. Delaware and Pickerington Central
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 30 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*Oct. 9 -- at Central Crossing