Opportunity awaits football squad
Following convincing back-to-back wins, the Whitehall-Yearling High School football team is trying to get back in the Division III, Region 9 postseason picture.
Coach Jake Kuhner and his team believe a win Friday, Oct. 25, at West Jefferson will help that cause.
The Roughriders are 7-1 overall and first in the MSL-Ohio Division at 4-0.
Whitehall improved to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the league with a 47-20 win over visiting London on Oct. 18.
The Rams, who defeated Grandview 36-0 on Oct. 11, are projected to be 18th in their region this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Kuhner believes a win over West Jefferson would get his team significant points in the computer ratings, because the Roughriders are projected to be first in Division V, Region 18 this week.
The Rams are just a few points away from having three more wins. They lost to Bloom-Carroll 52-51 in three overtimes Sept. 6, to Bexley 35-34 in two overtimes Sept. 27 and to Columbus Academy 42-40 on Oct. 4.
"We feel pretty confident," offensive and defensive lineman Dylan Rice said. "We're just trying to win out so we can get to the playoffs. We're not going to stop believing. We hit a rough patch in the beginning, but we think we can overcome it."
West Jefferson's loss came against Maria Stein Marion Local, 29-0 on Sept. 6. Marion Local is the two-time defending state champion in Division VI.
The Roughriders defeated Grandview 50-0 on Oct. 18, as quarterback Logan Stepp had 340 yards passing and a touchdown and ran for a 58-yard score. Running back Trey Morris had a 37-yard touchdown reception and 5-yard touchdown run.
The Roughriders had 528 total yards and limited Grandview to 108.
After qualifying for the playoffs from 2006-11, West Jefferson failed to earn a berth last season.
"West Jefferson throws a lot, they like to spread people out," Kuhner said. "It's the same thing we do. We're going to put our kids in the best situation as possible to win the game."
Whitehall and London were tied at 14 at halftime, but the Rams outscored the Red Raiders 33-6 in the second half.
Running back Shaquille Alexander rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Quarterback Cody Koons completed eight of 16 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Wide receiver/running back B.J. Upchurch had four catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns and a 63-yard touchdown run.
The Rams coasted to the win despite committing 14 penalties for 124 yards.
"We made some big mistakes in the defensive backfield for them to even get on the board and we had quite a few penalties," Kuhner said. "We had four touchdowns called back. It was a good win for the guys and our team, but we have to get tuned in for West Jeff."
For the season, Koons has completed 80 of 144 passes for 1,221 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for 755 yards and seven touchdowns on 140 carries. Alexander has rushed for 905 yards and 14 touchdowns on 185 carries and Upchurch has 36 receptions for 569 yards and six touchdowns.
Boys soccer team loses to Granville
The boys soccer team finished 1-14-1 overall after losing at fourth-seeded Granville 9-0 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 15.
The Rams were seeded 23rd.
Whitehall finished eighth in the MSL-Ohio at 0-6-1, behind Bexley (5-0-2), Columbus Academy (5-1-1), Worthington Christian (5-1-1), Grandview (5-2), Grove City Christian (2-5), London (2-5) and West Jefferson (1-5-1).
The Rams tied West Jefferson at 1 on Sept. 5.
Whitehall's win came against Patriot Prep, 6-0 on Sept. 12.
The Rams will lose five seniors, including midfield-er/forward Nahom Hailu, who led the team with four goals and was first-team all-league.
Coach Dan Ensign said his seniors were solid contributors.
"They're good kids," he said. "It was a tough situation. They came out and played all season. They played hard in the back. Justin (Gass) and Charles (Wrenn) were senior defenders and (senior) Ethan (Miller) was playing in goal, so they had a tough season with all of our losses. They stuck it out in the back."
Junior defender Michael Berhanue was second-team all-league, and Miller and freshman midfielder/forward Angosom Weldu were honorable mention all-league.
Other players eligible to return are junior midfielders Yuri Arteaga and Bryce Klabunde, sophomore midfielder Mateo Miranda and freshmen midfielders Natneal Dessa, Daveon Jemmott, Branham Kipruto, Jonathan Melendez, Chala Mosissa, Tamagne Shiferaw and Joshua Turcios.
Girls volleyball team loses in second round
The girls volleyball team saw its season end with a 25-6, 25-13, 25-12 loss at top-seeded Hartley in the second round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 19.
The 17th-seeded Rams finished 5-19.
Whitehall defeated 20th-seeded Brookhaven 25-16, 25-8, 25-15 in the first round Oct. 15 at home.
Cross country teams compete at district
The cross country teams competed in the Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
The boys team finished 13th (364) of 14 teams, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (29), as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pickerington North.
Hailu's bid for a return trip to regional fell shy, as he was 32nd in 17 minutes, 42.86 seconds.
Other runners for the Rams were Weldu (81st, 21:04.81), Shiferaw (82nd, 21:11.73), Dessa (86th, 21:31.85), Kevin Diaz (89th, 22:19.61) and Anthony Spaulding (91st, 22:34.38).
The girls team did not have enough runners to score at district. Competing were Katheryne Ortiz (75th, 25:29.25), Samantha Litostansky (77th, 26:00.62), Claudia Fuentes (79th, 27:12.93) and Ariana Oldham (82nd, 30:50.91).