After opening the 2016 season with back-to-back losses, the Eastmoor Academy football team won its final eight games of the regular season and landed one of two playoff berths for the City League-South Division.
Things haven't gone quite as well for the Warriors this fall, but enough big games remain that a return to the postseason still appears to be within reach.
Eastmoor's next two games come against programs that are off to perfect starts, including Thursday, Sept. 28, when the Warriors play at Marion-Franklin in a game that will be televised on the CW Columbus.
"Everybody (did) extremely well in the non-league in our league," Warriors coach Jim Miranda said. "Independence, Walnut Ridge and Marion-Franklin are undefeated. It's great for the City-South. We're still a growing team. Most of the guys on our team weren't starting last year, but the good thing is that 19 or 20 of our guys who are starting will be returning starters next year."
On Sept. 22, Eastmoor's rally came up short in a 20-14 loss to Walnut Ridge, as the Warriors fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the league and the Scots improved to 5-0 and 2-0.
Independence, which travels to Eastmoor on Oct. 6, and Marion-Franklin both are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the league as well.
The Red Devils led by just six points at halftime but pulled away for a 42-21 victory over West on Sept. 22 as junior quarterback Ke-zion Brown threw for three touchdowns and senior wide receivers Travon Pittman and Zaire Porter each had a touchdown reception to lead the offense.
Eastmoor committed five turnovers against Walnut Ridge, which ended the Warriors' two-year hold on the Bell Trophy, awarded to the winner of their annual matchup.
The Warriors trailed Walnut Ridge 20-0 but rallied to within six points and had the ball in the final 2 minutes, only to be stopped by the Scots' defense.
Junior Savon Edwards (RB/DB), who according to Miranda has been averaging more than 8 yards per carry, scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Marquise Laster with 8:47 remaining.
Junior wide receiver Kenny Lawrence then caught a short pass from Laster along the sideline and ran 70 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-14 with 3:02 to go.
Linden takes two steps
forward, one backward
With consecutive wins over South (12-6 on Sept. 8) and Reigning Sports Academy (20-6 on Sept. 15), the Linden football team won back-to-back games for the first time since the 2009 season.
The Panthers lost to Whetstone 20-6 on Sept. 22 to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the City-North.
JaQuan Watson (WR/DB) scored on a 65-yard reception against South and had three interceptions against Reigning Sports Academy. Amon Smith (RB/LB) had 203 yards rushing against Reigning Sports Academy and has been a key player on defense along with Watson, Toree Bosley (DB), Nate Claude (WR/DL), Myzarome Gordon (OL/DL) and Kavontae Taborn-Wright (DL/OL), according to coach Jason Ryan.
"All the credit goes to our kids and assistant coaches, who have been doing a great job putting our kids in position to make plays all year," Ryan said. "Our backbone is our defense, without question."
Linden plays host to Mifflin on Friday, Sept. 29. The Punchers beat Northland 48-34 on Sept. 22 to improve to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the City-North.
Northland is 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the league entering its home game against Whetstone on Sept. 29.
Beechcroft, which has a bye in Week 6, beat East 41-0 on Sept. 22 to improve to 2-3 overall and 2-0 in the City-North.
Whetstone, which is 2-3 and 2-0, shares the league lead with the Cougars.