First-year coach Deke Hocker saw several things that his St. Charles Preparatory School football team needed to adjust after its 56-7, season-opening loss to visiting Dublin Scioto on Aug. 24.

Hocker hopes many of those problems will be solved before kickoff Friday, Aug, 31, at Eastmoor Academy.

"When I look at the film, we have a lot of areas to improve," he said. "A lot of times the biggest improvement comes between Week 1 and Week 2. We'll see what the positives and negatives are and go where we need to go.

"(The Irish) had a couple big plays on us early, and we got down and out of our game plan. They had good athletes that scored in space and they got up on us 21-0 right off the bat."

The Cardinals had 203 total yards, including 119 rushing. Michael Pappa scored on a 6-yard run.

Scioto gained 311 yards, with 135 rushing.

Eastmoor opened with a 45-14 win over Franklin Heights on Aug. 24.

The teams played for six consecutive seasons from 2009-14, with St. Charles holding a 5-1 edge.

"I think it is a neighborhood rivalry, just like Whitehall is one of our surrounding communities," Eastmoor coach Jim Miranda said. "We travel well and they travel well, and I think it's good for the schools and the community to play them again."

Against the Falcons, Savon Edwards scored on runs of 92 and 2 yards, a 50-yard punt return and a 40-yard reception from quarterback Marquise Laster.

"We had some mental mistakes (against Scioto) and we had too many penalties," Hocker said. "Every time we would have a good play, it would be called back by a penalty. We have to take care of the ball and tackle better."

Water polo team has high expectations

The water polo team returns five starters from last season's squad that finished as state runner-up for the second consecutive season.

Senior center/wing Jon Sugar (74 goals, 55 assists, 73 steals, 5 blocks) was second-team all-state and made the state tournament team as the Cardinals lost to Thomas Worthington 15-13 in overtime in the final. Senior center guard/wing Griffin Beam (67 goals, 39 assists, 78 steals, 12 blocks) was honorable mention all-state.

Also back are seniors Andrew Edwards (center; 55 goals, 28 assists, 64 steals, 8 blocks) and Sean Ritchey (center defender/wing; 32 goals, 22 assists, 78 steals, 12 blocks) and junior Thomas Lennox (wing; 40 goals, 38 assists, 48 steals).

"I feel like that experience from last year really helped us," said Beam, whose team finished 26-9-2 last season. "Finishing second two years in a row really makes you hungry."

The Cardinals were 7-1 before playing in the Mason Invitational on Aug. 24 and 25. They went 4-0 in the Napoleon Invitational on Aug. 10 and 11 and 3-1 in the Ann Arbor (Michigan) Pioneer Early Bird Invitational on Aug. 17 and 18.

Other top returnees are senior center Alec Lohiser (14 goals, 4 assists, 4 steals) and junior wings Travis Miller (1 goal, 4 assists, 6 steals) and Alex Nash (6 goals, 10 assists, 25 steals). The goalies are junior Seth Miller and sophomore Jackson Baird.

"We're really excited about the returning players we have back," Beam said. "We have a good core group and good senior leadership, and we feel like this is a year that we can get it done."

Soccer team expects banner season

The soccer team returns nine of 11 starters from last season when it finished 13-3-2 overall and placed second (3-1) in the CCL behind DeSales (4-0).

Two of the returnees are Division I commits in senior midfielders Christian Buendia (Saint Louis) and Owen Sullivan (Ohio State). Other starters back are seniors Andrew Donley (forward), Kevin Macias (defender), Joseph Marchionda (goalkeeper), Ethan Marshall (defender) and Austin Schmitt (forward) and juniors Tyler Cunningham (defender) and Ben Saas (midfielder).

"I'm optimistic because the preseason was very successful," third-year coach Chris Vonau said.

"We had a lot of guys that were playing club soccer, so they missed some workouts, but they have picked things up without missing a beat."

The Cardinals opened with a 2-0 win over Pickerington Central on Aug. 17, as Buendia scored twice and Marchionda had six saves. They also defeated Westerville South 2-0 on Aug. 23 and lost to Springboro 2-1 on Aug. 25.

"One of the things we have been concerned with is taking the best pass instead of the easiest pass," said Vonau, whose team opens CCL play Sept. 11 at Watterson.

"We need to execute the higher-level pass, and sometimes the easiest pass is not the best. We need to be cleaner on the small, easy passes."

Cross country team strong at the top

Coach Damien Brandon said his cross country team is looking for a fifth runner to complement a strong top four.

Seniors Iain Karas and Liam O'Reilly, junior Ethan Encarnacion and sophomore Owen Karas return for the Cardinals, who won their 11th consecutive CCL championship and 18th in 19 seasons last fall.

"We're pretty excited about this year because Liam and Iain should be able to go with anyone's 1-2, which is nice to have," said Brandon, who is in his 10th season.

"Ethan has battled injuries and is a little behind in his training schedule, but he should be where he needs to be by the end of the season. Owen has really dropped time and should be below 17 (minutes) by the end of the season, which will give us four runners below 17."

The Cardinals opened by placing eighth (231 points) of 17 teams in the Panther Division of the Pickerington Classic on Aug. 25 at Pickerington North behind champion Gahanna (85).

"We do not have a definitive runner in the five hole and it will likely be our Achilles heel," Brandon said. "Senior Will Blubaugh might fill that spot, but he (was) taking his ACT during the opener. We'll have to see who can step up and fill that for us."

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