Football squad at home on road
Whitehall coach Jake Kuhner watches as his team warms-up befofre its 41-6 loss to Newark Catholic on Oct. 12 at Gahanna. Whitehall plays its home games on the road because of ongoing construction at the high school. Buy This Photo
For Whitehall-Yearling High School football coach Jake Kuhner, this will be a season he said he will never forget.
Not only is Kuhner winding down his first season as coach, but the Rams will not play any home games this fall.
All their home games were moved to neutral sites because of a school renovation project.
"I'm proud of how our kids have handled the season," Kuhner said. "I'm proud of how we handled practice time being away from our regular practice field and our usual routine."
The team has held practices at city-operated John A. Bishop Memorial Park, which is a little more than a mile from the school.
The high school project began in March, and athletics director Mike Ferguson said it remains on target to be completed next summer.
Whitehall played its final "home" game of the season Oct. 12, losing to Newark Catholic 41-6 at Gahanna.
Senior running back Isaiah Turner rushed for 119 yards on 28 carries.
A common Friday night for the Rams during these neutral-site games has been to bus from Whitehall to the site with the players in uniform, prepare for the game in an unfamiliar locker room and bus back to Whitehall in uniform following the game.
The Rams are 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division. Their wins came games played at Bexley, 40-7 over Central Crossing in the opener Aug. 24 and 24-6 over Lakewood on Oct. 5.
Along with Gahanna and Bexley, Whitehall played two home games at Reynoldsburg, where it lost to Grandview 33-23 on Sept.7 and Licking Valley 34-7 on Sept. 14.
"Everything worked out great," Ferguson said. "The schools that we used their fields were just outstanding. They made sure that we had everything we needed. They just have been as gracious as hosts as you can get, so we're really fortunate."
The trips to Bexley were probably the most convenient for the Rams, as the schools are separated by less than four miles.
For Gahanna athletics director Justin Sanford, it was an easy decision to help a school in need and a friend in Ferguson.
"First and foremost, Mike is a good friend, but for any school, we would be willing to do it if it worked into the schedule," Sanford said. "Athletically, we're not going to benefit from it other than just an opportunity to promote the field."
Sanford said Whitehall was responsible for handling admission, public address announcing, scoreboard operation and the chain crew.
The Gahanna music boosters, which run the concession stands during Lions home games, handled concessions during the Whitehall game, Sanford said.
Last season, the Rams took advantage of their home field, going 4-1 on their way to a 6-4 record. The lone home loss came against Granville 52-28.
"For having what we were faced with, it's been pretty good," Ferguson said. "If it wasn't for all the help from all the schools around, we wouldn't have been able to do this."
Whitehall closes the season with games at Columbus Academy on Thursday, Oct. 18, and Bexley on Oct. 26.
"We want to finish strong," Kuhner said. "The last two games (Lakewood and Newark Catholic), we've been trying to finish strong as well. We came back the second half (against Newark Catholic). The kids didn't drop their heads; they didn't give up.