Gabe Philhower has become well-versed in the area of organization.

Now in his third season as the Reynoldsburg High School boys soccer team's goalkeeper, one of the senior's main tasks is setting up and directing the defense for a squad that had only two losses through its first 11 games.

He's been busy using his feet in other ways, too.

After deciding to try out for the football team as a junior, Philhower now serves as its place-kicker, punter and kickoff specialist.

"Last year it was a little difficult getting the hang of things, but this year I've got (doing both sports simultaneously) down pat," Philhower said. "Time management is key. I go to football after soccer practice. With football I just go and do special-teams work."

The soccer team was 4-2-5 overall and 0-1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Pickerington Central on Sept. 26.

Philhower entered the week with three shutouts, including in scoreless ties against Hilliard Darby on Sept. 7 when he had six saves and Thomas Worthington on Sept. 21 when he made eight saves.

During an 11-0 victory over Newark on Aug. 29, he got a chance to play in the field and scored two goals.

"Obviously Gabe's been (great)," second-year coach Tony Labudovski said. "He's really consistent and has kept us in a lot of games. We feed off of that."

After the Raiders went 3-7-6 in 2015 with Philhower in his first season as the starting goalie, they improved to 8-7-1 last year as Philhower made special mention all-league.

Before playing Central, Reynoldsburg also had posted wins over Licking Heights (5-1 on Aug. 26), Watkins Memorial (2-1 on Sept. 2) and Dublin Scioto (4-1 on Sept. 16).

"We've taken a big step with Tony as our coach," Philhower said. "I do what I need to do to stop shots. I feel like last year was good, but this year we're more of a family. We just mesh well together. We're hoping we can make a run in the playoffs."

Having success in the postseason is a big goal of the football team as well, and Philhower is playing a key role in the Raiders' hopes.

Philhower's father, Brad Philhower, has worked as a school guidance counselor at Fairfield Career Center since 2014 and was a punter for Middletown in the late 1980s.

"(In summer 2016) I was at my grandpa's house and my grandpa had a tee," Philhower said. "I realized I could kick it pretty well, so over the summer I talked to the football coach."

Buddy White, who has been the football team's coach since 2011, is glad Philhower did.

Last season, Philhower made five field goals and 20 extra points and received second-team all-league honors. He made four field goals during a 25-18 victory over Gahanna last season, including the game-winner from 30 yards with 39 seconds remaining.

On Sept. 8, Philhower made a 32-yard field goal in a 31-7 victory over Olentangy.

Senior Tanner Wooddell kicked off for the Raiders last season but elected to play golf this fall, opening up that role for Philhower.

Through four games, Philhower was averaging 55.5 yards per kickoff and had nine touchbacks.

He also has taken over the punting job and was averaging 34.5 yards, with four of 14 attempts going inside the 20 through four games.

The Raiders improved to 4-1 by beating Westerville Central 41-31 on Sept. 22, as Philhower made field goals of 38 and 41 yards and was 5-for-5 on extra points.

"He has put our mind at ease as far as our kicking game is concerned," White said. "He's been doing a very good job."

Two former Reynoldsburg kickers who also played soccer for the school, 2014 graduate Jordan Watkins and 2016 graduate Cole Mathias, are kickers for Bluffton University and Thomas More, respectively.

Philhower is in the exercise science program at Fairfield Career Center and plans to study that field in college.

While White said he wouldn't be surprised if Philhower ends up kicking collegiately, Philhower isn't sure what his future holds athletically.

"I plan on (competing in college sports)," Philhower said.

"I'm not sure what sport, though. It will be one of the most difficult decisions I've had in a while. So right now (I'm) neutral."

Success motivating
boys, girls runners

Just three regular-season meets remain before the boys and girls cross country teams compete in the OCC-Ohio meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster.

First-year coach Bill Crane can't wait to see how far his program has come when it competes in the league meet and in the postseason.

"It's been going pretty well," Crane said. "The girls have won or placed in the top three of most of our invitationals and the boys have had meets where they've been in the top three or four. I don't think they knew what they could develop into."

On Sept. 16, the girls scored 49 points to win the 11-team Newark Invitational as freshman Avril Moyer took third in 20:38.3 and classmate Kasey Lichtner was fourth in 21:03.2.

The girls were runners-up (68) in the Tiger Invitational on Sept. 23 at Pickerington Central behind the host Tigers (67).

Junior Natalie Castello has been the team's No. 3 runner most of the season, with seniors Chanel Boykins and Annalese Roach also consistently being among the top five.

Freshmen Rachel Watkins and Macey Thompson have been other contributors.

"I haven't really allowed them to run with fresh legs yet," Crane said.

"We're now down to one race per week and have been able to have more quality training sessions. They've definitely met the challenge. It's been exciting and motivating. We're starting to look at our goal of the girls pushing toward making the regional."

The boys were sixth (159) in the 15-team Newark Invitational behind the champion and host Wildcats (52) as senior Jared Dye was 13th (18:18.6).

Juniors Brody Swisher and Andy Young, sophomore Grant Boone and freshmen Mars Davis and Dominic Sabo also have been key contributors.

In the 12-team Tiger Invitational, the boys were last (252) behind champion Columbus Academy (73).

"The boys have made a lot of improvements," Crane said.

Tennis team enjoys
winning streak

The girls tennis team lost nine of its first 11 matches but then won five in a row and was 7-9 overall before playing Delaware on Sept. 25, Marysville on Sept. 26 and Watkins Memorial on Sept. 27.

After losing to Lancaster 3-2 on Sept. 7 to finish 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio, Reynoldsburg beat Canal Winchester 3-2 on Sept. 11, defeated Northland 3-0 on Sept. 12 and earned 5-0 victories over Big Walnut on Sept. 14, Westerville South on Sept. 15 and Newark on Sept. 18.

Sophomore Hope Chaffin, junior Sarah Hoffmann and junior Alexa Matan have been in the top three singles slots, respectively.

Junior Katelyn Whetsel and sophomore Abi Swift have teamed up at first doubles, with sophomores Hannah Dodley, Feaven Gebrezgi and Nia Harris all seeing time at second doubles.

Reynoldsburg will open the Division I postseason by competing Oct. 5 and 7 in a sectional on its home courts.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 30 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

Oct. 4 -- Thornville Sheridan Backwoods Invitational

BOYS GOLF

Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Hartley

*Oct. 3 -- At Pickerington North

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 30 -- At Centennial

*Oct. 3 -- At Pickerington North

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 28 -- At Teays Valley

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 28 -- At Grove City. The Raiders beat the Greyhounds 25-23, 25-18, 27-25 on Sept. 7.

Oct. 2 -- At Whitehall

*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Raiders lost to the Tigers 25-18, 25-14, 25-14 on Sept. 12.

*League contest