The road warriors are returning home.
After playing its games on the road or at neutral sites last season because of a school renovation project, the Whitehall-Yearling High School football team will play its first home game since 2011 when Bloom-Carroll visits on Friday, Sept. 6.
"It will be great because it stinks traveling all the time, you just want to play in front of your family, teachers (and) community," senior lineman/tight end Nick Wright said. "It's just a different atmosphere and everybody is behind you 100 percent instead of like when you're always on the road there's not everybody always there. It's just a much better feeling when you're at home."
The Rams, who opened the season against Central Crossing on Aug. 30, lost to Bloom-Carroll 21-3 in week two last season.
Whitehall had only 57 total yards, 35 rushing.
"Last year we were a running team and we tried to run the ball and they just shut it down," senior running back Shaquille Alexander said. "We couldn't move the ball on offense. Defensively, we were hanging in there until about the third quarter and we just fell apart. We didn't know what to do. This year will be a lot different."
That loss came after a 40-7 win in the opener against Central Crossing at Bexley.
Whitehall went on to lose six of its final eight games to finish 3-7 overall.
Meanwhile, Bloom-Carroll lost four consecutive games after defeating Whitehall and McArthur Vinton County 33-0 in week three to drop to 2-5.
The Bulldogs rebounded to win their next three games under veteran coach Phil Mauro and earn the seventh seed in the Division IV, Region 15 playoffs. The Bulldogs lost to Ironton 41-16 in the first round to finish 5-6.
Bloom-Carroll played Heath in its opener Aug. 30.
Senior Kelly Milliser was the leading candidate to play quarterback for the Bulldogs entering the season, while senior Jarrett Peters and junior Alex Peirano are key running backs.
Senior wide receiver Tyler Sorg had 11 touchdown receptions last season and was first-team all-MSL-Buckeye Division and all-district.
Before last season, Bloom-Carroll's previous best finish came in 2005 when it went 4-6. The Bulldogs were 14-46 over the next six seasons before last year's postseason run.
With a seven playoff division added this season, Whitehall is in Division III, Region 9 and Bloom-Carroll is in Division IV, Region 13.
"We're looking a lot better," Alexander said.
"We have a lot more depth at many positions, so our team is looking a lot better as a whole team."
Hailu wins opening meet
Senior Nahom Hailu opened the cross country season by winning the Whitehall Invitational on Aug. 24 at Whitehall Community Park.
Hailu finished the race in 18 minutes, 46 seconds, as the boys team took second (44) behind Licking Heights (31) and ahead of Northland (65) and Columbus South (80). Anthony Spaulding was sixth (21:04).
"We came in runner-up with a very young team, so that was very good," coach Robert Taylor said. "It's going to give Nahom some confidence to get the year started."
Katheryne Ortiz was 11th (28:28) for the girls team, which did not have enough runners for a team score. Licking Heights (20) was first, followed by Northland (43) and South (70).
Whitehall will compete in the Northland Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Woodward Park.
Last season, the boys finished third (82) in the 13-team meet behind Watterson (27) and DeSales (69). Hailu was first in 16:59.
The girls finished eighth (96) in the 10-team meet behind champion DeSales (27)
Volleyball team awaits first home match
The girls volleyball team was scheduled to play its first match at the high school since 2011 on Sept. 3 against Madison Plains, but it was moved to Madison Plains because the renovation project at the school was not fully completed.
The Rams are hoping to play their first home match Tuesday, Sept. 10, against West Jefferson.
"We're definitely looking forward to having a home finally and not having to be just told, 'Sorry, You can't have a gym or no, you don't get to practice,'" coach Danielle Smith said. "They're definitely looking forward to getting back over here."
Whitehall was 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Madison Plains. The Rams lost their league opener to host Columbus Academy 25-9, 25-21, 25-16 on Aug. 29.
Whitehall lost to Hamilton Township 25-13, 25-5, 25-7 on Aug. 27 at New Rosemore Middle School.
"We came out playing strong and playing competitively and then the wind got knocked out of our sails and we just kind of fell apart," Smith said. "I'm glad it happened early in the season, so we can work on communicating on the court and being aggressive. It was like we were one step slow. I'm glad it happened before we got into league play."
Senior setter/outside hitter Tierra Copley believes her team will improve as the season continues.
"We're doing pretty good so far," she said. "We really don't have height this year, so we really hustle for the ball. ... I want to have a winning record because it's been kind of hard the last few years because we haven't really had that good of a record."
Boys soccer team looks to bounce back
Boys soccer coach Dan Ensign is confident his team will recover from a 14-0 loss to Teays Valley in its opener Aug. 20.
Freshman goalkeeper Jona-than Melendez had 16 saves.
"I told the players to look at the game, recognize some of the things we can work on, but also think about some of the things that we did well," Ensign said.
"There was some combination play and there were a few glimmering moments of positive play. I said whatever we did to make that happen, let's try to make those happen more often."
The Rams were 0-2 before playing Gahanna Christian on Sept. 3, after losing their MSL-Ohio opener to Bexley 9-0 on Aug. 29.
They visit West Jefferson on Thursday, Sept. 5, for a league game.
Whitehall was slated to play Northland at home Aug. 27, but the game was postponed because of a scheduling conflict.
Ensign was hoping the game would be rescheduled.