The Groveport Madison High School football team was shut out in its opener and lost in the final seconds in Week 2.

The Cruisers will try to put those games out of their minds when they play at undefeated Thomas Worthington on Friday, Sept. 8.

Groveport was outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter in a 21-14 loss to Hamilton Township on Aug. 31 at Fortress Obetz.

With the score tied at 14, Rangers linebacker Trent Salters intercepted backup quarterback Colin Kerns near the Cruisers' 25-yard line and returned the ball 20 yards with 15 seconds left.

Hamilton Township backup quarterback Eric Bonte scored on a 5-yard run on the next play, as the Cruisers fell to 0-2.

Groveport, which opened with a 27-0 loss to Westerville North on Aug. 25, had just forced a fumble that defensive back Tyss Harris recovered at his own 21 to give the Cruisers a chance to take a knee and go to overtime.

"We thought we'd surprise them and give ourselves one chance to bust one loose," coach Bryan Schoonover said, referring to the interception. "Boy, this is tough."

Thomas beat Canal Winchester 27-20 in its opener Aug. 25 and Westerville North 45-21 on Sept. 1. The Cardinals are led on offense by quarterback Charlie Rhoades, slotbacks Khalil Jones and DiJahn Davis and receiver Dakarey Williams. On defense, linebackers Charlie Kneessi and Layne Burns and defensive back Vincent Eguakun are playmakers.

Groveport, which beat Thomas 41-21 last year, trailed Hamilton Township 7-0 at halftime after losing two fumbles. The Cruisers finished with four turnovers.

"Our defense played pretty well, but overall we just made too many mistakes," Schoonover said.

The Cruisers, who were without all-state receiver Izayah Aekins and starting quarterback Jacob Huffman because of injuries, scored 14 points in the third quarter as Kerns connected with Jaylin Chaney on touchdown passes covering 5 and 9 yards.

With the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, Groveport drove to the Rangers' 31 before turning over the ball on downs and later had the ball at their own 45 before losing their third fumble with 3:43 left.

Kerns was 17-for- 31 passing for 167 yards and Cody Wilson had four catches for 52 yards, while Emmanuel Anthony and Wayne Blackshear both rushed for 45 yards.

Girls volleyball team
off to strong start

For the second season in a row, the girls volleyball team has gotten off to a strong start.

But for the Cruisers to produce the program's first winning season, they will have to be better in OCC-Capital Division matches.

Groveport won four of its first six matches last season and was 8-8 before finishing 9-14 overall, thanks to a 2-8 record in the league, which placed them fifth behind co-champions Big Walnut and New Albany (both 9-1).

With only two starters having returned, the Cruisers were 5-2 before playing Liberty Union on Sept. 2. They opened league play Sept. 5 against Franklin Heights and will play host to Canal Winchester in a league match Thursday, Sept. 7.

"We're younger, but I think we're more skilled as a team this year," third-year coach Matthew White said. "We also have chemistry, camaraderie and a team-first attitude. These girls will fight for it, and I love their mental toughness."

Carsyn Saunders (libero) and Morgan Whiting (right-side hitter/setter) are the returning starters. They also are the only two seniors on the roster.

"Carsyn is our best spot server, and our seniors have to lead us in communication and continue to build and maintain our team chemistry," White said. "Those will be keys to our success, as will our movement to the ball."

Other starters have been junior Reina Rhone and sophomore Macie Sporleder at middle hitter, junior Laynie Maynard and sophomore Lizarely Martinez at outside hitter and junior Kiara Brinkley at setter.

Completing the roster are juniors Skilyn Jacks (defensive specialist) and Madison Young (outside hitter/middle hitter/right-side hitter) and sophomore Mackenzie Maddy (defensive specialist).

The Cruisers opened Aug. 19, beating host Whitehall 25-23, 25-14 and Briggs 25-23, 25-14.

After losing to Pickerington Central 25-14, 25-9, 25-21 on Aug. 22, Groveport beat Millersport 16-25, 25-9, 25-23, 25-15 the following day, held off Central Crossing 25-10, 23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12 on Aug. 24 and beat Whetstone 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 on Aug. 26 before losing to Pickerington North 25-10, 25-12, 25-15 on Aug. 29.

"We are looking to play closer games against the stronger teams, be more competitive within our league and to have an enjoyable, stress-free season," White said.

Cross country teams
lacking experience

Junior Peyton Baker is expected to lead the boys cross country team again this season.

Baker was one of three Cruisers to compete in the Division I, district 1 meet at Watkins Memorial last season. The other two were 2017 graduates.

Baker finished 40th of 97 runners in a personal-record 17 minutes, 24.05 seconds, as the top 20 advanced to regional.

Although first-year coach Vincent Gay has 10 runners on the roster, Baker is the only one with varsity experience.

"We will see how our young team is going to compete moving forward," Gay said. "I am very excited about the young talent and to see how they progress and compete this season."

Gay replaced Aaron Fenzel, who led the program for three seasons.

The Cruisers opened Aug. 21 in the 14-team New Albany Classic, totaling 269 points to finish 10th as Baker placed sixth (17:53) of 218 runners.

Also competing were senior Thomas Gullatt (63rd, 20:23), freshman Eli Jackson (85th, 21:11), junior Demani Lane (93rd, 21:32) and freshmen Jason Pinkston (137th, 22:54), David Neal (172nd, 24:40), Jake Nelson (179th, 24:54) and Kahari Davis (180th, 25:16).

Completing the roster are junior Chad Kunz and sophomore Rafael Soler.

The girls team returned junior Sophia Barros and sophomore Cherub Clarke, the only Cruisers to compete in the district 3 meet last season. Barros (80th, 23:28.67) and Clarke (86th, 25:05) posted personal-best times at district.

This season, there are 11 girls on the roster.

In the New Albany Classic, sophomore Melanie Torres placed 33rd (23:16) of 196 runners. She was followed by Clarke (79th, 25:27), freshmen Gracia Musa (157th, 31:30), Madelyn Allen (163rd, 32:01) and Crystal Russell (166th, 32:14), junior Victoria Williams (167th, 32:17), sophomore Brianna Chan (177th, 33:16) and junior Aubrey Trissel (184th, 34:16).

Completing the roster are junior Emily Allen and freshman Annie Byerly.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 21 -- New Albany Invitational

Aug. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational

Sept. 2 -- Westerville North Classic

Sept. 5 -- Licking Heights Invitational

Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 16 -- Shin Splint Invitational at Westland

Sept. 23 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

Sept. 27 -- Walnut Ridge Invitational

Sept. 30 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

Oct. 4 -- Backwoods Two-Mile Fest at Thornville Sheridan

Oct. 7 -- Darby Dash

Oct. 15 -- OCC-Capital meet at Lancaster

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 19 -- at Whitehall with Briggs

Aug. 22 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Aug. 23 -- at Millersport

Aug. 24 -- at Central Crossing

Aug. 26 -- vs. Whetstone

Aug. 29 -- at Pickerington North

Sept. 2 -- at Liberty Union

*Sept. 5 -- at Franklin Heights

*Sept. 7 -- vs. Canal Winchester

*Sept. 12 -- at New Albany

*Sept. 14 -- vs. Newark

*Sept. 19 -- at Big Walnut

Sept. 21 -- vs. Lancaster

*Sept. 26 -- vs. Franklin Heights

*Sept. 28 -- at Canal Winchester

*Oct. 3 -- vs. New Albany

*Oct. 5 -- at Newark

*Oct. 10 -- vs. Big Walnut

Oct. 12 -- at Bexley

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon

*Sept. 12 -- At Franklin Heights

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 9 -- At Westland

*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 7 -- At Big Walnut

Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll

*League contest