Unlike many in central Ohio, Daniel Ewald gushed with pride as Ohio State’s football team fell to Oklahoma 31-16 the night of Sept. 9.

Ewald, a junior tight end and linebacker for the Central Crossing High School football team, might not have enjoyed the Sooners’ win as much as that of his own team the previous night, when the Comets pulled off the largest comeback in school history to defeat Grove City 49-48, but both were emotional all the same because all Ewald wanted was to take in the victories with his father, Paul.

“I know he would have loved seeing (the Oklahoma-OSU) game,” Ewald said. “I know I loved watching it.”

Paul Ewald, a native of Oklahoma City, died at 48 of a heart attack in the late afternoon of Sept. 1, a few hours before Central Crossing lost to Hartley 31-6.

Daniel already had left for the game and wasn’t told of his father’s death until after the game by his mother, Heather.

So Daniel channeled his grief into football, which already was going to be emotional enough given the intensity of the Comets’ rivalry with the Dawgs. Tears flowed during a pregame moment of silence for Paul, and Daniel was named one of the team captains for the game that night.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Ewald did not have a catch, but recalled one tackle on Grove City running back D.J. Gatewood as the Comets mounted their comeback.

“I think it was in the third or fourth quarter, one of their final drives,” Ewald said. “It was such a blur that I can’t think of anything in particular, really.”

More tears flowed after the win, Central Crossing’s first of the year. The Comets are 1-3 entering a Friday, Sept. 22, home game against Groveport, which is 0-4.

“I got fired up to play not only for (Daniel), but for his dad and for the team,” linebacker Jon Tiegler said. “I think a lot of that emotion came out with the win. Several of us broke down.”

Coach Trevor White admired the way his linebacking corps, which also includes Chris Olson and Aaron Reasoner, rallied around Ewald.

“One of the things we have stressed this year is sticking together and fighting through adversity,” White said. “At no point in time do you ever want to have a situation like this to use as an example, but we had it. The way the team rallied around Daniel and rallied together was inspirational, and so was Daniel’s attitude of working through it. The kid is going through a lot, but it was great to see the support (Sept. 8).”

Ewald, who saw time as a right tackle last year, is in his first full year of varsity action. He has three catches for 28 yards this season, but acknowledges he prefers defense.

“Kids are funny sometimes in what they like to do,” White said. “Daniel has never avoided anything, but anytime you can get a kid who comes in wanting to play defense, that’s something to like. Getting the ball and scoring, everybody wants to do that. Running around and taking on a 300-pounder and hitting every play is not.”

Quarterback Ben Bohne had Central Crossing’s only touchdown in a 21-7 loss to Reynoldsburg on Sept. 15, a 1-yard run in the third quarter. He completed five of 21 passes for 97 yards and two interceptions as the Comets were outgained 397-206 in total yards.

Groveport also was stifled offensively in a 33-7 home loss to Pickerington Central on Sept. 15. Dehami Guinn accounted for the Cruisers’ only points, returning a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Groveport was held to 84 total yards.

The Cruisers are without one of their anticipated top players in senior wide receiver and defensive back Izayah Aekins, who is expected to miss the entire season after injuring his right ankle in the preseason. Aekins had 69 catches for 1,056 yards last year.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave