A lot has changed since Jess Biller first got involved with the Whitehall-Yearling High School bowling program as a volunteer consultant during the 2005-06 season when his son, Jesse, joined the boys team.
The program, which now is an established power in central Ohio, competed at the club level back then and didn't generate a lot of buzz around the school.
Biller officially joined the Rams the following season, sharing boys assistant coaching duties with Tavi Netotian under head coach Jim Shaw. The trio helped guide the boys to a district tournament title and state tournament appearance.
Biller took over as girls coach in 2007-08, beginning an impressive 11-season run that will come to a close later this winter. The Rams hope to extend his tenure as long as possible by reaching the Division I state tournament March 10 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"It's been a good run," said Biller, who announced earlier this season that this would be his final year. "I've had a great time, but as with anything, all good things must come to an end."
Under Biller, the girls team has finished the regular season undefeated four times and posted a 146-11 overall record.
"I'm proud of that," Biller said. "You don't realize it's happening when you're going through it year by year. We've concentrated on goals. We're concentrating on winning. We concentrated on representing our school, our team and our community. Then you look back after a decade and you see this happen, it's a little striking."
The Rams have won three consecutive Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference division titles and five overall, as well as seven MSL championships in the league's eight years of existence. Whitehall has featured the MSL Bowler of the Year in all eight seasons.
"I was fortunate enough to have good talent and over the years I just learned to be the right coach," Biller said.
The girls also have competed in five state tournaments as a team, with hopes of reaching a sixth in a few weeks. The Rams open the postseason in the sectional tournament Feb. 24 at HP Lanes.
Whitehall is 10-0 overall as it prepares to close the regular season Friday, Feb. 16, against Westerville Central at Holiday Lanes. The Rams won the COHSBC-D title at 10-0 and rolled a 3,395 to win the nine-team COHSBC tournament Feb. 10 at Game of Western Columbus, ahead of runner-up Gahanna (3,344).
The top bowler during Biller's tenure has been senior Madison Stiffler, who won the individual state title in 2016 and finished second last season. Stiffler, who will bowl at Wright State, is hoping to end her prep career and Biller's tenure with another strong performance at state.
"We've talked about how crazy the last four years have been bowling for him," Stiffler said. "Four years ago when I was in a youth league before I got to high school, (we were) talking about how he couldn't wait for me to get to that level to bowl for him and now we're almost done."
Biller and Stiffler's family have developed a close bond over the years, with Biller providing support when Stiffler's father, Keith, died unexpectedly in September 2015.
"He's helped me with confidence, telling me how good I am and just being there as a good support system," Stiffler said. "Not only with bowling, he's helped me as a person with my family life, and personally he's been there for me."
Biller's family has been synonymous with bowling in the area for several years, highlighted by his grandmother, Marie McAllister, being named to the Columbus Women's Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1997. She coached youth bowling in central Ohio for more than 40 years.
Biller, who has coached his five children at the prep level during his tenure, said he's stepping away from the program for family commitments. His youngest child, Jada Lynn, will begin her freshman year at New Albany in the fall.
"I'm looking forward to being a parent, a spectator and watching my youngest daughter go through the (bowling and softball) programs," Biller said.
Biller, 46, has earned the respect of opposing coaches and Whitehall administrators, including Mike Adkins, who is in his sixth year as a member of the school board.
"Seven (MSL) titles in eight years and six in a row, that's pretty impressive," Adkins said. "It's going to be tough (to find a replacement). I would hate to be a new coach walking into a situation like that and having to fill those shoes."
Adkins and Biller are longtime friends who have coached together and against each other in Whitehall's youth baseball and softball programs.
"I was disappointed (that Biller is stepping down), but I also understand his kids are getting a little older and I understand different avenues that come across in your life," Adkins said. "He's going to be missed."
Boys bowling team wins league title
The boys bowling team captured the COHSBC-D title at 12-0.
Whitehall completed its perfect league record with a 2,106-1,249 win over Africentric on Feb. 9. Jason Kefauver led the Rams with a 477 two-game series, followed by Brandon Shaw with a 388.
The Rams finished third (3,462) in the nine-team COHSBC tournament behind champion Westerville Central (3,803).
Whitehall is 12-0 overall as it prepares to face Central on Friday, Feb. 16.
Boys basketball team seeks league title
The boys basketball team enters its game Friday, Feb. 16, against visiting Columbus Academy looking for at least a share of the MSL-Ohio title.
The Rams, who were 12-7 overall before playing Westerville North on Feb. 12, are tied for first in the league with Grandview at 7-2. The Bobcats visit London on Feb. 16.
Academy is third at 6-3 after losing three consecutive league games.
Whitehall bounced back from a 67-54 loss to Grandview on Feb. 3 to defeat Academy 55-48 on Feb. 5 and Worthington Christian 62-43 on Feb. 9.
Tyjaun Childers scored 17 points, Marcus Harris had 11 and Taylon Cofer added 10 against Academy.
Against Worthington Christian, Reiko Bagley scored 20 points and Childers added 14.
Whitehall is seeded 24th of 48 teams for the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye. The Rams will play at 11th-seeded Westerville Central or play host to 32nd-seeded Delaware in the second round March 2.
Girls basketball team winding down season
The girls basketball team enters the Division I district tournament at 1-21 overall.
The Rams went 0-10 in the MSL-Ohio to finish sixth behind champion Bexley (9-1). They lost to Academy 39-27 on Feb. 9 as Annequia Paterson scored 11 points.
Whitehall is seeded 49th for the district tournament and has a first-round bye. The Rams play at fourth-seeded Reynoldsburg or 44th-seeded Briggs in the second round Feb. 23.
Nesbitt announces college decision
Senior Kendall Nesbitt announced Feb. 7 that he has committed to play football at Ashland.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 16 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy. The Rams defeated the Vikings 55-48 on Feb. 5.
Feb. 19 -- At Hartley
Feb. 17 -- Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles