Things haven't gone as well as the Groveport Madison High School football team would've hoped.

After all-state receiver Izayah Aekins injured his right ankle in the final scrimmage, the Cruisers initially planned to be without him for one or two weeks.

Groveport christened its new turf field with a 27-0 loss to Westerville North in its opener Aug. 25. Then, the Cruisers yielded an interception in the final 20 seconds to set up Hamilton Township 5 yards from the end zone, gift-wrapping a 21-14 loss to the Rangers on Aug. 31 at Fortress Obetz.

Groveport fell to 0-3 with a 47-13 loss to host Thomas Worthington on Sept. 8.

Making matters worse, the Cruisers recently learned that Aekins is expected to miss the entire season because of the ankle injury.

And it doesn't get easier this week for Groveport, as it plays host to Pickerington Central on Friday, Sept. 15.

The Tigers, who were a Division I state semifinalist last season, are 2-1 after losing to Trotwood-Madison 28-19 on Sept. 8.

Central is averaging 22.7 points per game and allowing 23 per game but has played a brutal schedule. The Tigers opened with a 24-21 win over Detroit Cass Tech, the defending Division I state champion from Michigan, on Aug. 24 and beat Indianapolis Cathedral, a playoff qualifier in Indiana last season, 25-20 on Sept. 1.

Against Trotwood-Madison, the Division III state runner-up last season, quarterback Demea-tric Crenshaw was 11-for-22 passing for 142 yards with touchdown passes to Tristan Peppers (42 yards) and Trenton Gillison (6 yards). Peppers had five catches for 95 yards.

Running back Jamir Jackson joins Gillison and wide receiver Xavier Henderson as playmakers for the Tigers, who routed the Cruisers 45-14 last year.

Gillison and Henderson both are Michigan State commits. Henderson had seven interceptions last season and was named Division I district Defensive Player of the Year.

Against Thomas, the Cruisers received the opening kickoff and marched to the Cardinals' 25, but Luis Hernandez's 43-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.

Thomas scored 14 points in a 40-second span late in the first quarter thanks in part to an interception. The Cardinals led 21-0 and scored on five of their first six possessions to take a 34-13 lead into halftime.

Emmanuel Anthony rushed for 92 yards on 10 carries for the Cruisers and Wayne Blackshear added 66 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Quarterback Jacob Huffman threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson late in the first half.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek