The Thomas Worthington High School football team will be seeking a strong finish to the season when it travels to Lexington on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Cardinals, who have lost six consecutive games to drop to 3-6 overall, have had trouble closing out games during their skid, including a 20-7 loss to Dublin Scioto on Oct. 20 in their OCC-Cardinal Division finale. The Irish scored 13 points in the final 52 seconds.
The Cardinals missed their second field-goal attempt of the game, a 35-yarder, with just under two minutes remaining. A few plays later, Scioto running back Kenyon Pannell scored on a 60-yard run with 52 seconds left. Then on the final play of the game, the Irish scored on a 58-yard fumble return by Tobias Thomas.
"We had a blown assignment on that long run, but every week, it's something," said coach Matt Zingery, whose team finished 0-6 in the league. "We've been so close, but we've had trouble finishing games and finishing halves. That's something that has to change down the road. I really believe we should have won four more games.
"The only two we shouldn't have won were against Hilliard Darby (45-14 on Oct. 6) and Hilliard Bradley (31-17 on Sept. 22), and we led Bradley at (halftime)."
Thomas lost to Kilbourne 26-25 in overtime on Sept. 15, fell to Dublin Jerome 33-32 on Sept. 29 and lost to Delaware 21-17 on Oct. 13.
The Cardinals will play Lexington without senior standout Khalil Jones, a slotback and receiver who also plays quarterback in the wildcat formation and returns punts and kickoffs. Jones was injured early in the game against Scioto and Zingery was anticipating the worst.
"Our personnel believe it is a torn ACL, but we won't know that until he has an MRI," Zingery said. "One way or another, he won't play against Lexington. It's a tough way for him to finish. He's had such a phenomenal season. He was injured without contact, as he planted to duck in and duck out."
Lexington is 2-7, but has some good talent, according to Zingery.
Among the key players for the Minutemen is junior Cade Stover, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback and outside linebacker. According to several recruiting sites, he is a top-four junior recruit in the state and has received scholarship offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others. He is projected to play outside linebacker in college.
"That kid looks to be the real deal and (the Minutemen) also have a couple of linemen who go at least 6-4 and 285. One of them (Keslyr Hooper) is 6-6 and 305," Zingery said.
Kilbourne seniors seek one last win
Senior linebacker Thomas Wilson and 22 of his classmates still have plenty to play for when Kilbourne plays host to Jerome on Friday, Oct. 27.
Wilson has been adding to his career-leading tackles total since the opening game this season and set a single-game record with 25 in a 17-3 loss to Darby on Oct. 13. He has 135 this season, including 47 solo, 9.5 for loss and seven sacks.
"Thomas is a tenacious football player," coach Vince Trombetti said. "He plays hard and physical and he doesn't let all of his bumps, bruises and pains show on the football field. He gets beat up. What I like most about him is the tremendous amount of work and time he puts in during the offseason to get better.
"I wish we had more (players) like him and we will next year, I guarantee that. We had 16 kids on the team who made it to at least 70 percent of our workouts and weightlifts and last year we had 33 kids. I know Thomas is frustrated by that, too. Weightlifting is a foundation of this game and the ones who have put in that time are the ones who are playing well."
The Wolves are 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Bradley 63-21 on Oct. 19. Jerome edged Watterson 28-27 on Oct. 20 and enters the contest 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the league.
The Celtics, who are averaging 21.3 points and allowing 21.1, were projected to be seventh in the Division I, Region 2 computer ratings entering Week 10. The top eight teams in each region make the playoffs.
Against Watterson, running back Robert Cope rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries and linebacker Cade Kacherski blocked the extra-point attempt by the Eagles with 4:25 remaining to preserve the win.
Quarterback Hayden Schell ran for 133 yards and two scores on 16 carries as he and Cope accounted for all of the team's 362 yards rushing on 48 carries.
Trombetti lauded the defensive play of Wilson, linebacker Cole Dyer, lineman Kaleb Dave and defensive backs Ryan Wesolowski and Ryan Hester in recent weeks. Wesolowski is second on the team with 104 tackles.
"It's disappointing that this late in the season we're dealing with fundamental mistakes on techniques," Trombetti said. "I want us to go out and finish with a strong game."