Whitehall-Yearling High School senior quarterback Cody Koons expects to face a different Central Crossing football team in the opener Friday, Aug. 30.
In last year's opener, Whitehall won 40-7 in coach Jake Kuhner's debut.
"(In) last year's game, we gave it to them," Koons said. "We came out with the win, but we know that they remember it just as well as we do and they're definitely going to be gunning for us week one, working a lot harder than they were last year, and we're prepared for a battle."
Central Crossing finished 2-8 last season, but Kuhner realizes the visiting Rams will be facing what is expected to be an improved team.
"I think they'll definitely come into the game a little more focused than what they were last year," Kuhner said. "They probably thought since we're a Division III team and them in Division I that we weren't going to give them too much of a fight, but they're going to be ready for us this year and it's going to be a real tough game for us."
Koons rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and senior tailback B.J. Upchurch added 98 yards and two scores in last season's win.
Koons has been sharing time at the quarterback in the preseason with junior Tristen Ritchie after both saw playing time last year.
The Comets' 4-3 defense should be led by senior Jake Whitlock and junior Shane Maxey at end. Maxey had 83.5 tackles last season.
Junior Cameron Barker (DL) had 45 solo tackles and assisted on 15 last season.
The Comets will run a spread offense for the second consecutive season after switching from a power-I formation.
The new scheme resulted in a program record for scoring average at 21.4 points per game last season. The previous high was 14.1 in 2010.
Senior quarterback Luke Duncan was second-team all-OCC-Central Division and honorable mention all-district last season. He completed 117 of 230 passes for 1,782 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and rushed for 515 yards and seven touchdowns on 175 carries.
Senior wide receiver Michael Traversa had 35 catches for 271 yards last season.
Junior Ethan Swank, a transfer from Grove City Christian, and sophomore Colter Bass should be threats at running back.
Whitehall's 3-4 defense will include Upchurch at safety, where last season he was first-team all-district and first-team all-MSL-Ohio.
"We just have to stay disciplined and sound on offense and defense," Kuhner said. "We've been talking about keeping our poise on offense. Offensively, it's pretty much up to our line what happens up front. Defensively, just as long as everybody is stick- ing to their assignments, flying around and getting after them, we'll be in for a good night."
After winning the opener a year ago, Whitehall went on to finish 3-7.
"That was one of those games that set our egos over the top due to us getting a hold of a Division I team and that was our opener," Kuhner said. "Then we went to Bloom-Carroll the next week pretty much totally unfocused (and lost 21-3)."
Volleyball team tops Briggs, Teays Valley
The girls volleyball team opened the season 2-2, including a 19-25, 25-22, 25-20 win over Briggs in a tri-match Aug. 17 at Franklin Heights and a 25-15, 25-18, 20-25, 19-25, 17-15 win over Teays Valley on Aug. 22.
The Rams lost to Franklin Heights 25-27, 25-23, 24-26.
Senior setter and outside hitter Tierra Copley had 15 assists and eight aces in the opening tri-match. Senior setter and outside hitter Kayla Williams had 12 assists and seven kills, and junior middle hitter Tyra James had 11 kills.
Senior utility player Andrea Seberig and junior libero Madison Schmidt each had 12 digs.
Against Teays Valley, Copley had six kills and five aces, junior all-around player Sammy Day had seven digs and three kills, senior utility player Rebekah Young had eight digs and Seberig and sophomore middle hitter/setter Mykela Hollinshead each had five kills.
"The girls are starting to get comfortable with their new positions and roles on the team," coach Danielle Smith said.
"(Against Teays Valley) they battled back after dropping two sets in a row. The match proved to the girls that they can win close games and if they play hard, teams will have a tough time against them."
Whitehall lost to Central Crossing 25-14, 25-15, 25-14 on Aug. 19.
Tennis team falls to Academy in opener
The girls tennis team opened the season by losing to Columbus Academy 5-0 on Aug. 20.
Last season, the Vikings (75 points, 5-0) won the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio, finishing ahead of second-place Bexley (58, 4-1) as the Rams were sixth (5, 0-5).
"I have stressed to the girls that they stay positive and focus on applying the skills we have practiced in their matches," coach Ben White said.
"Our captain, Courtney Price, has proven to be a good leader. She leads by example and is always upbeat."