While some might consider Tennyson Varney’s return to Franklin Heights to be a special occasion, the first-year Grove City High School football coach is treating it as just another game.
The Dawgs are 0-4 entering the contest Friday, Sept. 22.
“It’s just a typical week,” said Varney, who coached the Falcons the past three seasons. “It’s no different. Our kids understand exactly what they’re up against. I don’t think there’s any secret.”
Grove City made a strong bid for its first win for the third consecutive week before coming up short in a 23-14 loss to visiting Marysville on Sept. 15. The Dawgs lost to Olentangy 21-10 on Sept. 1 and Central Crossing 49-48 on Sept. 8.
“We’re getting closer,” Varney said. “It’s just one of those things where you put a lot of effort into it and you want to see the kids have success, but unfortunately we’re just not there yet.”
Franklin Heights improved to 2-2 with a 41-28 win against visiting Westland on Sept. 15.
After going 1-9 in both 2014 and 2015 – although it had to forfeit three games in 2015 – Franklin Heights finished 10-2 last season and earned its first playoff win.
In their first postseason appearance since 1989 and second overall, the Falcons beat Licking Heights 40-32 in a Division II, Region 7 first-round game before losing to Massillon Perry 66-28 in a regional semifinal.
Grove City went 0-10 last season and is looking to snap a 16-game losing streak. The Dawgs’ last win came on Oct. 16, 2015, when they beat Gahanna 10-7.
Devin Dukes had touchdown runs of 19 and 5 yards against Marysville.
Varney said his team has been hampered by the loss of several key players to injuries and disciplinary reasons.
“It’s just not been very disciplined, so it’s one of those things where we have to do things right first before you can have success,” he said. “We’re trying to right the ship. Unfortunately, it makes it hard when you’re taking losses and you’re disciplining kids and you’re banged up, but that’s how it goes. You have to deal with it.”
Franklin Heights collected 416 yards against Westland as quarterback Cody Little passed for 256 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 108 yards and two scores.
Ray McDonald had three catches for 101 yards and two scores, including an 85-yard touchdown reception.
“It has to be exciting for (the Falcons). They’re on a two-game winning streak,” Varney said. “They did a great job against Westland. They handled them pretty well. They look talented, they’re fast and they’re playing well. I’m pretty happy for coach (Cory) Fenner.”