Although his team finished with a disappointing 1-9 record, first-year Grove City High School football coach Tennyson Varney was pleased with his players' effort.

He also saw areas in which the Dawgs must improve.

"I think we're going in the right direction," Varney said. "We had quite a few discipline problems that I had to deal with. We had some problematic things that had to be solved first in order to get the program to move in the right direction. The scores don't show it, but we were close at times and we were more competitive than they have been in the past few years."

Grove City's win came against Varney's former program, Franklin Heights, 55-23 on Sept. 22.

Senior running back Devin Dukes led the Dawgs' offense, rushing for 1,287 yards and 13 touchdowns on 199 carries after transferring from Ready. He was named first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.

At Ready, Dukes was first-team all-state and the district's Offensive Player of the Year in Division VI last season, rushing for 2,194 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Senior Patrick Eanes (WR/DB) and junior Kingston McKinstry (RB/DB) were second-team all-league. Eanes had 20 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior Cameron Lowther (WR/DB) was special mention all-league, and junior D.J. Gatewood (RB/LB) was honorable mention all-league.

Gatewood, who rushed for 308 yards and one touchdown, is expected to pick up the rushing workload in place of Dukes next season.

"The season didn't go the way any of us wanted it to go," Gatewood said. "It wasn't good, but there was a lot to take away from the season. Obviously, the record didn't show, but we got a lot better as a team. We showed that we could play with anybody. We just have to take that into next year. We know we can play. Now we have to finish."

Senior quarterback Austin Sigler completed 121 of 198 passes for 1,426 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

Junior Broderick Cook (WR/DB) had 21 receptions for 281 yards and three touchdowns, and senior Austin Butcher (WR) had 15 receptions for 203 yards and two scores.

The Dawgs went 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio to finish sixth behind Pickerington Central (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1), Reynoldsburg (3-2), Gahanna (2-3) and Lancaster (1-4). Central, North and Gahanna qualified for the Division I playoffs.

"We have a long way to go," Varney said. "Our schedule has to be one of the toughest around."

With 28 seniors on the roster, Varney realizes he will need to replenish the roster. After having about 75 players this season, he anticipates having about 55 next year.

Other key players eligible to return include juniors Luke Capehart (WR/DB), Colton Hunt (WR/DB) and Ben McGue (OL) and sophomores Cole Crager (QB/DB) and Jevin Yors (RB/DB).

Varney credits the seniors for helping to keep the team's morale at a high level.

"Unfortunately, when you take over a group of seniors you also take over some things they've dealt with in the past, which is OK," Varney said. "I wish I could have done more for them. I wish they could have had more success, but when you talk to them individually, they're happy with the way their senior year went as far as progress goes."

Gatewood is looking forward to another season under Varney.

"I think he did a great job," Gatewood said. "I know a lot of the junior class agrees. He did a great job for his first year. We would have liked to win more games, but he changed the culture around. Now it's a different culture at Grove City."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank