The Whetstone High School football team will be looking to continue its string of success against rival Centennial when the Braves play host to the Stars in the regular-season finale Friday, Oct. 27.
Whetstone has won 13 of the past 14 meetings, including the last two. The Stars' lone victory during that stretch came in 2014, 53-21.
Both teams enter the matchup at 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the City-League North Division.
Whetstone is coming off a 34-7 win over the Columbus Crusaders on Oct. 20. That same night, the Stars lost to Mifflin 41-21.
"Centennial being our rival always makes for a great Week 10 game," coach Don Poff said. "The kids on both teams always seem to play at a different level. Offensively, we need to find some rhythm and keep the ball moving. Our special teams have played well the last few weeks, and that will need to continue.
"Defensively, we will be coming after them. They are able to get points on the board, but I believe our defense has prevented some good teams from doing what they've done well against other teams. We will be attempting the same against Centennial."
Centennial has been led offensively by running back Luchene Davis, quarterback Jaylen Gilbert and receiver Craig Burt.
Through eight games, Davis had rushed for 655 yards on 78 carries and had scored 10 touchdowns, including two receiving. Gilbert was 64-for-116 passing for 1,080 yards and 19 touchdowns and had five rushing touchdowns, and Burt had 26 receptions for 801 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"They are Whetstone and we are Centennial; they want to beat us and we want to beat them," Centennial coach Donte Goosby said. "There's not much else that needs to be said. It's been pretty one-sided for the past 10 or 12 years, but we've got a group of young guys that wants to start a trend of winning this game."
Defensive backs Ibrahim Sesay and Oshea Jones, linebackers T.J. Johnson and Lincoln Mullins and lineman Gerard Reynolds have led the Braves' defense.
"(Through eight games) Sesay is one of the area leaders in interceptions and T.J. Johnson has 74 tackles," Poff said. "Lincoln, Oshea and Gerard also have played well on defense.
"Gerard has 12 tackles for loss with five sacks at defensive end while sharing time at tight end and fullback. He is a threat to any team we play. Sophomore Ben Paugh has risen to the occasion and has matured a great deal after taking over a linebacker spot."
Injuries have hindered the Braves' offense.
"We have been faced with some adversity," Poff said. "We lost our top three running backs to injuries in the first three weeks, then we lost a key lineman for the season and (quarterback) Terris Crider couldn't take snaps due to a broken finger against Mifflin (on Oct. 6)."
The Braves lost to Mifflin 20-0 and fell to Beechcroft 18-0 on Oct. 20 before Crider returned against the Crusaders.
"While our offense struggled, our defense kept us in those games," Poff said. "We went into those halftimes trailing Mifflin 6-0 and were 0-0 against Beechcroft. We had six turnovers against Beechcroft and the defense still held up."
The Stars are averaging 34.7 points per game and allowing 37.8, while Whetstone is averaging 12.9 and allowing 20.9.
"(Whetstone has) had more success defensively this year than we have," Goosby said. "We have scored more points than they have, so that could be an interesting matchup."
The Braves scored the first 21 points against the Crusaders on touchdown runs by Mullins (9 yards) and Reynolds (6 yards) and a 55-yard interception return by Sesay.
After the Crusaders got a second-quarter score, Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown to give the Braves a 27-7 lead. Crider threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Jones in the third quarter to close the scoring.
Crider was 6-for-12 passing for 100 yards and ran for 73 yards on 15 carries. Jones had five receptions for 92 yards.
Girls volleyball team falls to Stallions
The girls volleyball team lost at third-seeded DeSales 25-2, 25-6, 25-12 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19 to finish 18-4 overall.
The Braves, who were seeded 35th of 50 teams, defeated 38th-seeded Centennial 25-8, 25-18, 25-17 in the first round Oct. 17 at home.
It marked the third time this season Whetstone beat the Stars. The Braves won 25-11, 25-13, 25-16 on Sept. 7 and 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12 on Oct. 3. Before Sept. 7, the Stars had won 76 consecutive City-North matches since the start of the 2012 season.
Whetstone went 14-0 in the City-North and, for the first time since 1992, played in the City final, where it lost to host Eastmoor Academy 20-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 on Oct. 14.
The Braves will lose eight seniors in Angel Bagley (middle hitter), Maci Elicker (outside hitter), Jaiden Garner (outside hitter), Lila Geiger (defensive specialist), Ava Kowalski (outside hitter), Sophia McLemore (outside hitter), Hannah Reed (setter) and Whitney Staggs (middle hitter).
Sophomore outside hitter Dahlia Kleen is expected to be the most experienced returnee next season.
Season ends for boys soccer team
The boys soccer team lost at top-seeded Olentangy Liberty 5-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 21 to finish 7-10-1.
Seeded 40th of 47 teams, Whetstone defeated 32nd-seeded Central Crossing 2-1 in overtime in the first round Oct. 18. Sophomore midfielder Abdulluhi Abdulluhi scored the winning goal off a rebound about midway through the 15-minute extra period. Mitchell Hughes sent a shot into the box that Comets goalkeeper Pedro Gomez couldn't secure and Abdulluhi scored.
Junior forward Nathan Vokac also scored and goalie Jacob Hochstetler made six saves for the Braves, who owned a 20-7 advantage in shots on goal.
Runners end season at district
The cross country teams competed in the Division I, district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial.
The boys team finished 12th (315 points) of 17 teams, behind champion Pickerington North (56), as the top five teams and top 20 runners advanced to the regional meet Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
Thaine Nederveld led the Braves, placing 42nd of 119 runners in 17 minutes, 18.5 seconds. Also scoring for Whetstone were Drew Nederveld (61st, 17:49.41), Sam Khoury (63rd, 17:51.73), Mathew Conroy (69th, 17:57.14) and Emil Adams (80th, 18:19.36).
Granville (141) placed fifth and Teays Valley's Ryan Fleming was 20th (16:43.53).
In the girls race, the top six teams and top 24 runners advanced to regional.
The Braves finished 15th (461) of 16 teams as Granville (43) won and Westerville Central placed sixth (139).
Adrien DeLapp led Whetstone, placing 65th of 116 runners in 22:09.81. She was followed by Micah Stromsoe-DeLorenzo (95th, 24:58.1), Bryn Van Dommelen (102nd, 25:33.66), Megan Sharp (109th, 27:01) and Lana Tleimat (112th, 27:52.).
Marysville's Morgan Forney was 24th (20:04.28).
Girls soccer team ousted by Vikings
The girls soccer team's season ended with a 5-0 loss to 34th-seeded Teays Valley in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16.
Whetstone, which was seeded 35th of 42 teams, finished 8-7 overall, losing its final two games. The Braves fell to Centennial 2-1 (2-1 in penalty kicks) in the City championship game Oct. 12 at Mapfre Stadium before falling to Teays Valley.
"We would've liked to have won the City championship and our first-round game," coach Doug Kohler said. "When we lost our last game, there were tears and sadness because the season had come to an end. We were much like a family at the end. The girls insisted on one last gathering for a fun day on (Oct. 17). Aside from our awards night, it was a great way to end the season."
The Braves will lose 10 seniors, including first-team all-City honorees Jamie Bossenbroek (midfielder), Mary Doherty (defender) and Haylee Thomas-Speigle (defender/midfielder) as well as second-team honorees Julia Allwein (defender/midfielder) and Sabrina Vedovato (midfielder) and honorable mention honoree Addison Hartman (midfielder/forward).
Expected key returnees include junior Olivia Evans (goalie) and sophomore Misa Norris (midfielder/forward).
Other expected returnees are junior Ella Umbarger (midfielder/forward), sophomores Lily Mathys (forward/midfielder), Olivia Mullins (def-ender/midfielder), Elise Peters (forward/midfielder) and Ellis Scanlon-Kimura (forward/midfielder) and freshmen Mira Dush (midfielder/defender), Amelia Morris (defender) and Annabelle O'Neal (defender).
"I'm encouraged for next year," Kohler said. "We lose a lot of seniors, but we only have two juniors. We have 12 sophomores and freshmen and many of them received experience this season. The seniors will be missed, but it's up to the young players to make a culture change."