To help keep his shooting skills sharp, Dublin Jerome High School senior boys lacrosse player Hunter Barco has three bounce-back targets in his backyard so that he can practice from multiple angles simultaneously.

He's proven to be a bounce-back artist from a personal perspective as well considering some of the adversity he's had to overcome the last couple years.

Although he committed to Ohio State in March 2015 and signed with the Buckeyes last November, Barco endured a pair of shoulder injuries in football that still leave him with discomfort.

He also was suspended for the first three games this season because of an incident that occurred earlier this school year.

Through it all, the one constant for the fourth of five brothers who all have played lacrosse has been his passion for excelling.

"In years past, I was sitting more in the shadows and was more of a role player, but now I have more of a drive to leave a legacy for the next guys coming through," Barco said. "At the end of the day, making sure you shoot every day has paid off."

Barco, a 6-foot, 185-pound attacker and midfielder, might have had his best game to date April 15 in a 13-6 win over Hudson Western Reserve Academy, as he had five goals and three assists.

The Celtics were 7-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Bradley on April 18. Their only loss came April 8 when they fell 9-8 to Coffman in Barco's second game of the season.

Jerome followed with wins over Delaware (10-2 on April 11) and Thomas Worthington (18-5 on April 13) in its first two league games.

Barco did not play in wins over Hilliard Davidson (12-7 on March 22), Olentangy (11-9 on March 25) and Bloomfield Hills (Michigan) Cranbrook (15-9 on March 28) because of an incident that took place on school grounds last October.

"I was at a school dance and the car I was in had alcohol in it," Barco said. "I was one of the first ones to get in trouble. I went down to (Ohio State men's lacrosse) coach (Nick) Myers' office afterward and told him what happened, and he was understanding. I was humbled to have it happen. Now I'm trying to prove I'm a better person. It was a wakeup call."

Celtics coach Andy Asmo has been impressed with the maturity Barco has shown since the incident occurred.

"He's done a great job for us," Asmo said. "He's owned up to his responsibilities, and he's gone down to (Karrer) Middle School and has helped out down there."

Barco, who turned 18 on Jan. 26, is the son of Roxanne and Michael Barco, and his father played football for Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

His family also has lived in Evansville, Indiana, and Glenview, Illinois, because of his father's career in the pharmaceutical business, but the four oldest sons have played lacrosse at Jerome since the family's latest move back to central Ohio in 2011.

Tanner Barco, a 2013 graduate, and Conner Barco, a 2016 graduate, both play for Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, and Spencer Barco is a 2014 graduate.

The youngest of the clan is Carter Barco, who is an eighth-grader at Grizzell Middle School.

"My brother Tanner picked up a stick when Dublin lacrosse was starting to grow and I wanted to be like him," Hunter said. "I started playing when I was in second grade."

Hunter also gave football a shot in the fall of 2015 and played wide receiver, defensive back and on special teams before tearing his labrum in his left shoulder midway through the season.

He recovered well enough to play lacrosse last spring and finished with 24 goals and 15 assists. He attempted to return to football last fall but reinjured his shoulder during the preseason and was unable to continue.

"I do a lot of rehab," Hunter said. "(My doctors) said there's always going to be lingering pain, so I can't sleep with my arms up. I can't lay my head in my arms."

Through all the obstacles he's faced, his focus has remained steady.

"We've got to take everything seriously (because) at Jerome, you're not playing against an opponent, you're playing against perfection," Hunter said. "When I can't be utilized to score, I try to work through the offense. For me, it's kind of about setting the example."

Defense shining for
girls lacrosse team

With senior midfielder Cameron Finnegan and senior attacker Hannah Rashidi among the returnees on offense, the girls lacrosse team entered this season with more question marks regarding its defense.

Those were answered with an exclamation point during the season's first few weeks.

The Celtics split their first four games but won their next three and were 5-2 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley on April 18.

The only game among its first seven in which Jerome gave up 10 or more goals was an 11-8 loss to New Albany on March 21. The Eagles reached a Division I state semifinal last season.

The Celtics' only other loss entering the week came against DeSales, 8-7 in overtime April 6. The Stallions won last year's Division II state title.

"It's easy to be a good team by having a good offense, but being a great team requires defensive skills," coach Caroline Chao said.

Sophomore defender Kate Edwards and sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Potts are the top returnees on a defensive unit that also has included juniors Kaia Erickson and Antavia Horne, sophomores Claire Tzagournis and Mary Grace Zamary and freshmen Kate McKibben, Emily Peele and Sydney Stone.

"I'm excited to see how they develop," Chao said.

Jerome opened league action with a 24-3 win over Delaware on April 11 and followed with a 22-7 win over Granville on April 13. Rashidi had six goals and Isabella Francati scored five against Delaware, and Finnegan scored seven and Rashidi added six against Granville.

Cope off to hot start
for baseball team

In the baseball team's 7-5 win over Coffman on April 13, junior Robert Cope went 4-for-4 with a two-run home run.

Cope, who has been playing first base and outfield, has been batting about .500 for a Celtics team that was 9-5 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division after losing to Hilliard Darby 5-1 on April 17 and before playing the Panthers again April 19.

Videos •The Dublin Jerome baseball team completes a 7-5 victory over Dublin Coffman on April 13. •Watch an interview with Jerome baseball player Robert Cope.

"Cope has stepped up to the point that he has become one of the better baseball players in central Ohio," coach Chris Huesman said.

Through 10 games, the Celtics had a .365 team batting average.

Seniors Sam Wilson (P/SS) and Collin Hannan (C) also have gotten off to strong starts, according to Huesman.

"Players have begun to play hard and are understanding they can't take a play off," Huesman said. "We gave two games away this season so far due to lack of focus and not handling adversity well, so we have some things to improve on."

Harle takes over
as boys golf coach

During Craig Zesiger's six seasons as coach, the boys golf team earned Division I state titles his first three seasons, a state runner-up finish in 2015 and a third-place finish at state last fall.

The Celtics, who posted an overall record of 1,502-102 and won six league titles during Zesiger's tenure, will have a new coach next season in Taylor Harle.

Zesiger, who will continue to teach at Jerome, stepped down because of classes he'll be taking in the evenings as he pursues additional schooling.

"With the amount of travel the team does, it wouldn't be feasible with my course load," Zesiger said. "I'm pursuing some other career opportunities. I'm also going to be getting married in the middle of the golf season, so those are two big reasons.

"Taylor is a great young man who played for Olentangy and Otterbein. I'll still be here to support the program."

Harle, a 2009 Olentangy graduate, was Jerome's junior varsity coach for two seasons and spent last fall as the program's varsity B coach.

"I'm excited," Harle said. "It's a great opportunity. Ever since I was in high school, Dublin Jerome was known as an outstanding program and I look forward to continuing that tradition. In a community like Dublin, a lot of the kids have their own swing coaches and play on great courses."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek