The Beechcroft High School boys soccer team is intent on proving that last season was no fluke.
The Cougars won their first City League championship since 1986 in 2014 and added another City title last season.
Seeded seventh in the Division II district tournament a year ago, Beechcroft upset second-seeded Granville 4-1 in a district semifinal and third-seeded Hartley 2-1 in a district final before losing to Tipp City Tippecanoe 1-0 in a regional semifinal.
It was the type of experience that second-year coach Derek Hone acknowledges has had a lasting effect on the program.
Beechcroft lost nine players to graduation and more than two-thirds of the roster is new to the program, but it has enough players to add a junior varsity team this fall.
"I feel like the handful of players that are back are still kind of enjoying the success we had last year," Hone said. "It's also a reality check with us having 15 to 20 new guys and bringing them into the culture."
The Cougars were 0-2 before playing Circleville New Hope Christian Academy on Sept. 2. They opened with a 6-1 loss to Grandview, a Division III regional runner-up last season, and lost to Columbus Academy 4-2 on Aug. 26.
Beechcroft also is playing two Division I programs in Delaware on Thursday, Sept. 7, and Dublin Scioto on Sept. 23, as well as defending Division II state champion Kettering Alter on Oct. 5.
"After having the success that we did, we added a lot to our schedule," Hone said. "We just hope to win the City again."
The top returnees are seniors Josh Ducharme (defender), Adam Jalloh (center midfielder), Fred Kyei (forward) and Jeremiah Qusi (center midfielder) and juniors Ahmed Al-Saidi (forward) and Salih Mohammed (forward).
Junior Andrew Zigarevich is the goalkeeper.
Other key players include seniors Shaddy Boakye (center midfielder), Caleb Buaful (left back) and Biniam Tekae (midfielder).
Kyei had four goals and two assists through two games.
"We've had a slow start, but we've been able to adapt to having the new players," Ducharme said."
Eastmoor runners out
to build on state run
Eastmoor Academy boys cross country coach Jason Lewis believes the potential is there for his team to battle for another state berth this season.
He also acknowledges that there's work to be done after two of the team's top five runners had only abbreviated practices over the summer because of injuries.
Senior Omavi Hamilton finished 69th in 16 minutes, 50.5 seconds at the Division II state meet last season as the Warriors placed 17th. Senior Chris Chandler placed 88th (16:59.5) and junior Bushra Bonkiye and seniors Sean Hathorn, Marquise Crockett and Jason Farmer also competed.
Hamilton, however, got hurt at the regional track and field meet and Hathorn spent much of the summer healing from an injury.
Crockett, meanwhile, didn't have a full running schedule over the summer because he also plays travel hockey.
"The guys have been working real hard," Lewis said. "If Hathorn and Marquise can run in the low 17s, and I 100 percent believe they will, then it will be us and Heath at the end of the season (as the area's two best Division II teams)."
The Warriors lost just one runner who competed at state last year in 2017 graduate Malik Crockett, who was 113th (17:11.5) and is competing at Indiana Tech.
Eastmoor is competing Saturday, Sept. 9, in the McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial and has three other meets scheduled before the City championships Oct. 11 at Whetstone.
"Chris Chandler continues to blow everyone away," Lewis said. "He came on the scene as a sophomore and quietly did his work and it's taken off from there."
Vikings must stop
The Northland and Mifflin football teams will be facing opponents that got off to strong starts offensively on Friday, Sept. 8.
That same night, Beechcroft will be playing at Walnut Ridge in what could prove to be a crucial City crossover matchup.
After opening with a 42-21 loss at Mansfield Senior on Aug. 25 and defeating Whitehall 31-28 on Sept. 1, Northland plays Sept. 8 at Granville in the first meeting between the programs.
Although the Blue Aces went just 5-5 a year ago, they opened with a 52-14 victory over Hamilton Township on Aug. 25 before defeating Zanesville 30-7 on Sept. 1.
Granville running back Brandon Haley rushed for 649 yards a year ago but had 220 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries in the opener as the Blue Aces built a 38-7 halftime lead.
Northland managed just one offensive touchdown but scored on two interception returns in its opener.
Mifflin plays host to Harvest Prep on Sept. 8 in a matchup of teams that feature strong returning seniors leading their respective offenses.
Running back Daniel Bangura rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns, had a touchdown reception and threw for a touchdown in Harvest Prep's 30-0 victory over Bexley on Aug. 25. Harvest Prep played Franklin Heights on Sept. 1.
For Mifflin in its 38-26 victory over West on Aug. 25, quarterback Daveonn Logan threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns. The Punchers played Westland on Sept. 1.
The game between Walnut Ridge and Beechcroft is a matchup of perennial City powers.
The Scots opened with a 29-14 victory over Duncan Falls Philo and played Watkins Memorial on Sept. 1, while the Cougars lost to Akron Buchtel 23-6 on Aug. 26 in their opener and played Marion-Franklin on Sept. 1.