First-year Canal Winchester High School football coach Josh Stratton understands the significance of West Side pride.
Stratton, a 1998 graduate of Westland, will get a chance to coach against his alma mater when the Indians play host to the Cougars on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Westland is 1-3 after losing to Franklin Heights 41-28 and Canal Winchester is 2-2 after losing to Westerville North 48-21 on Sept. 15.
The Cougars were looking to build on their first win, as they defeated coach Kyle Goebbel's alma mater, Delaware, 19-14 on Sept. 8. Goebbel graduated from Delaware in 1998.
"I have a lot of pride from being from the West Side and that West Side toughness means something to me," Stratton said. "I want them to do very well with the exception of (Sept. 21). I'm coach Goebbel's biggest fan. I'm their biggest fan except for one week out of the year."
Not only is Stratton a Westland graduate, but he also is a longtime friend of Goebbel and his wife, Jennifer, who is in her first year as athletics director at Thomas Worthington.
Stratton's wife, Stacey, is a 2000 graduate of Westland. His parents, Jeff and Laura, remain area residents and his brother, Jake, is a Prairie Township firefighter and 2002 graduate of Westland.
"My family is pretty ingrained in that community and it's something that is kind of important to me," Stratton said. "It always will be. I will always have a sense of pride about being from there, a Westland graduate, but I'm a Canal Winchester Indian. (This) week, they're definitely my enemy and I hope to be victorious."
Stratton's football and basketball career at Westland was cut short by a car accident before his senior year. His coaching career began as an assistant with Gahanna's freshman boys basketball team from 2000-02 while he was a student at Morehead State University.
After coaching football and basketball at Dry Ridge (Kentucky) Grant County and Herculaneum (Missouri), Stratton took over the football program at New Richmond, where he won 33 games the past four seasons and made the Division III playoffs the past two.
At Canal Winchester, Stratton replaced Phil Mauro, whose contract was not renewed after his teams went 6-24 overall and 2-17 in league play the previous three seasons. Last season, the Indians finished 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Capital Division, losing their last five games.
Stratton's tenure at Canal Winchester began Aug. 25 with a 27-20, double-overtime loss to Thomas.
Goebbel is looking forward to coaching against his friend.
"Once I met Jen and we got married, I've become pretty good friends with Josh because of football and also because of that connection," Goebbel said. "When I got the job, I had Josh and Jake come in and talk about what Westland football meant to them and being an alumni and the tradition. Jake and Josh have been very supportive of me since I've been here."
Against Delaware, Matt Bailey rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries and Ousmane Dabo had 12 tackles and a 38-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Soriba Kaba had nine tackles and two sacks, and Zarek Yonley added nine tackles.
"It was a very exciting, rewarding feeling to get a win for our kids, to have that celebration, have that feeling of game's over, we won the game, we're better than another team," Goebbel said. "It's really rewarding for our whole program."
Girls soccer team
The girls soccer team entered its contest against Tree of Life on Sept. 14 looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Cougars were 1-7 overall. They are 0-1 in the OCC-Central.
Since beating Franklin Heights 4-1 on Sept. 5, the Cougars have been hit hard by injuries, according to first-year coach Mike Schwarten.
A key loss has been Shelbey Barnhill, who suffered a concussion and sprained neck.
"We've had a lot of injuries, so we're starting to get stretched," Schwarten said. "It's hard at the moment because a lot of our main players received injuries because they're putting their hearts out on the line. They were playing as hard as they could and an accident, a push or a shove, a bad fall and you get injured."
Westland opened OCC-Central play by losing at Marysville 10-0 on Sept. 12.
The Cougars were competitive in a 2-0 loss at Hamilton Township on Sept. 6. Goalkeeper Claudia Perez-Hall had nine saves.
Schwarten said the consistent play of Fernanda De La Fuente has been a highlight during the team's recent struggles.
"I like the fact that they're starting to get a little bit more rapport with each other and our younger girls are really stepping up with how they need to treat each other, and they understand what it means to be teammates," Schwarten said.
Boys golf team
wraps up league play
The boys golf team competed in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Central tournament Sept. 13 at Darby Creek.
Westland finished sixth (562) as Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington tied for first (313), although Davidson won the tiebreaker by having the lower fifth-player score.
Eli Epling led Westland with a 110.
The Cougars finished 0-20 in league play, behind UA (18-2), Dublin Coffman (16-4), Davidson (14-6), Marysville (8-12) and Central Crossing (4-16).
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 20 -- Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone
Sept. 19 -- Franklin Heights at Oakhurst
*Sept. 19 -- At Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Coffman
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Grandview
Sept. 20 -- At Westerville North
Sept. 21 -- At Whitehall
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 21 -- At Hilliard Darby