Senior night for the Westland High School football team means even more this season to fourth-year coach Kyle Goebbel.
Before the Cougars play host to Hilliard Davidson on Friday, Oct. 27, Goebbel will help recognize the nine seniors who joined the program in his first year.
Westland is 1-8 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central Division after losing to Dublin Coffman 49-0 on Oct. 20. Davidson is 4-5 overall and 3-1 in the league after defeating Marysville 28-7 on Oct. 20.
"They're the first class of freshmen that I had and the core guys that have been able to stick together through a couple tough years, obviously," Goebbel said. "Ousmane (Dabo), Trent (Bott), Issac (Richter); Thomas Goodwin doesn't play a lot but he's been sticking in there. Marcus Jones is a guy who played the last two years. They're a given us everything they've had type group."
Goebbel said two key players have been Bott, a lineman, and Dabo, a safety and wide receiver. Both are three-year starters who hope to play in college.
Dabo joined the varsity as a sophomore, moving from linebacker to the secondary at Goebbel's suggestion. He also returns kicks and punts.
"Trent and Ousmane have been absolute warriors for us, especially this year never missing a down and doing everything they can to the very end of each game," Goebbel said.
Dabo, who led the team in tackles with 105 before playing Coffman, credits Goebbel for his development.
"Coach Goebbel was a big help," Dabo said. "He's the one who told me to switch to safety because I used to play linebacker. He's the one who made me make the switch, so I decided to learn the safety position."
Davidson dropped a 17-14 decision to Coffman on Oct. 13. The Wildcats had two chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but lost the ball on downs both times.
Through eight games, Kalib O'Connor led Davidson with 469 yards rushing on 119 carries, followed by Ben Wright with 427 yards and six touchdowns on 125 carries.
Quarterback A.J. VanVoor-his passed for a season-high 94 yards against Coffman.
Davidson leads the all-time series against Westland 29-8-1.
The Cougars lost to visiting Central Crossing 48-21 on Oct. 13. Tyquwone Workman passed for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score, and Anthony Widen had four catches for 100 yards.
Before playing Coffman, Workman had passed for 967 yards and Daunte Campbell had 25 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns.
Linebacker Geno Sekura had 71 tackles.
Dabo and his teammates are hoping to close the season on a positive note. Dabo said he's pleased with his prep career and plans on wrestling for the first time this winter.
"I'm going to remember going out and playing my best every game for my team, trying to win the game," Dabo said. "I wouldn't trade this for anything. I liked playing for the team. My goal was trying to change the culture around here."
In a season that began with high expectations, Goebbel hopes his team plays well in the finale.
"All offseason and in the summer, we definitely had very high expectations with what we could do," Goebbel said. "It's a combination of injuries and other things. You don't expect your starting quarterback (DeShawn Evans) to break his leg (on the) second play of Week 4."
Girls soccer team opens tournament
The 40th-seeded girls soccer team was 2-14 before playing at seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19. Both teams had a first-round bye.
The winner plays 12th-seeded New Albany or 13th-seeded Upper Arlington in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the better seed, and that winner plays third-seeded Gahanna, 15th-seeded Watterson, 22nd-seeded Westerville South or 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a neutral site to be determined.
Westland lost to Ready 4-1 on Oct. 14 as Kenia Campuzano scored.
Cross country teams compete at district
The boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to the regional Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North, where the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to state Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
The Cougars competed in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 14 at Darby, and the boys finished sixth (189) behind Davidson (24), Coffman (60), UA (69), Marysville (99) and Central Crossing (130).
George Reyes was 43rd in 18 minutes, 32.65 seconds, followed by Kevin Reyes (47th, 18:52.04), Billy Holland (48th, 19:25.5), Manny Rojas (49th, 19:56.88) and Timmy Wotring (51st, 20:29.6).
The girls did not have enough runners for a team score as Davidson finished first (22).
Aja Nathans was 38th (22:53.15), followed by Bethony Fay (40th, 23:46.54) and Kaela Ponce (43rd, 24:45.49).
Boys soccer team again edged by UA
The boys soccer team suffered its second one-goal loss of the season to UA, falling 1-0 to the 20th-seeded and host Golden Bears on Oct. 18 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Senior goalkeeper Armando Mendez-Raya had nine saves for the 29th-seeded Cougars, who finished 8-9 overall.
"Overall, I'm happy," coach Jamie Dato said. "The regular season is .500, which I was hoping for at least .500. I'm happy with that, but disappointed we lost in the playoffs. We played hard."
Westland lost to visiting UA 2-1 on Sept. 26 and has lost four consecutive one-goal decisions to the Bears.
"Last year moral victories were pretty cool. This year I was hoping we were past moral victories," Dato said. "I really wanted a playoff win. We matched up well (with UA)."
Westland went 1-4 in the OCC-Central to finish fifth behind Coffman (4-0-1), Marysville (3-0-2), Davidson (3-2) and UA (2-2-1) and ahead of Central Crossing (0-5).
The Cougars defeated Central Crossing 3-1 on Oct. 10.
Senior forward Mitch Burns led Westland in scoring with 16 goals and four assists. Junior forward Alan Rodri-guez had six goals and three assists, and Mendez-Raya had 150 saves.
"The (nine) seniors were a good group to work with," Dato said. "I told them I was proud of them. They turned the program around from what it was before I got here to now. They should be happy with the two years that we've been here."
Players eligible to return include juniors Mesiah Bawi (midfielder), Landon Bruna (forward), Jaime Martinez (defender), Jefferson Martinez (midfielder), Juan Martinez (midfielder), Thomas Uk (defender) and Jose Vasquez (forward) and sophomores Trent Beach (goalie), Tei Tu Bawi (defender), Bawi Lian (defender), Luis Santos (midfielder) and Van Uk (midfielder).
Volleyball team concludes season
The girls volleyball team finished 3-20 overall under first-year coach Nicole Zumpano.
The 47th-seeded Cougars lost at 36th-seeded Mount Vernon 25-17, 25-10, 25-18 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 17.
"We learned a lot this season and we grew together as a team," Zumpano said. "We just need to remember that mistakes are part of the game. It's how we learn from them that will make us better."
Westland loses five seniors, including outside hitter Taylor Goett, who was a three-year starter and led the Cougars in kills with 123.
"They are all going to be tough to replace, as they all played a big part on the team this year," Zumpano said.
The Cougars went 1-9 in the OCC-Central to tie Central Crossing for fifth behind Coffman (10-0), Davidson (7-3), UA (7-3) and Marysville (4-6).
Westland split its matches with the Comets, winning 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16 on Sept. 19 and losing 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-13 on Oct. 10.
Westland also defeated Franklin Heights 25-20, 25-12, 25-14 on Aug. 24 and Bexley 25-22, 25-15, 25-10 on Sept. 6.
Junior setter Cameron Phaunef had 238 assists, junior defensive specialist Brooklyn Granato had 194 digs, senior middle hitter Joan Kowal had 49 blocks and senior right-side hitter Emily Smith had 21 aces.
Other players eligible to return include juniors Madison Green (middle hitter), Becky Grover (defensive specialist), Carlie Henry (middle hitter), Alyana Neal (right-side hitter), Haley Thompson (right-side hitter/setter) and Hannah Walls (outside hitter) and sophomore Kalista Prak (defensive specialist).
"I really enjoyed my first season at Westland," Zumpano said. "I'm glad that I was given this opportunity and I have already started planning for next year."