Back-to-back large senior classes hasn't necessarily run the talent pool of the Watterson High School boys soccer program dry.
The Eagles have just three juniors in their program, but there are 11 seniors participating even though the team lost back-to-back double-digit senior classes, and there are even two freshmen on the roster to help the program build toward the future.
Watterson opened Aug. 17 with a 4-0 win over Jonathan Alder. The Eagles then tied Hamilton Township at 1 on Aug. 21 before tying Bloom-Carroll at 1 on Aug. 25.
"As far as a group that has jelled, I think these guys are the tightest I've seen (during my tenure)," fourth-year coach Ed Mikula said. "They all hang out together, they're all friends and they play like that on the field. They're very unselfish players and they just know how each other plays. They know if they pass it, somebody will be there. It's probably the loudest team I've ever had. They build from the back very well and it creates a lot of opportunities for themselves."
Watterson, which has moved up from Division II to Division I after finishing 9-7-1 overall last season, should be led by senior returnees Justin Frank (center midfielder), Peter Ganz (forward), J.R. Goodman (center midfielder), Kyle Hanley (center midfielder), Max Hansell (forward), Jack Nyhus (center back) and Drew Pardi (outside back).
The other seniors are Jack Bay-Vinka (outside back), Drew Bimler (outside midfielder), Nick Giangardella (outside back) and Joey Scully (forward).
Also on the roster are juniors Max Graham (center back), Colin McKay (left midfielder) and Grant Twombly (outside back), sophomores Liam Brockman (goalkeeper), Colin Robinson (midfielder) and Michael Segreto (goalie) and freshmen Trent Maisano (midfielder) and Sean Nyhus (defender).
Watterson, which went 2-2 in the CCL last season to finish third behind DeSales (4-0) and St. Charles (3-1), opens league play Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Hartley.
Girls soccer team brings new look
After losing 13 players to graduation, the girls soccer team has a new set of key players under second-year coach Scott Dempsey.
Seniors Becca Marino (forward), Elizabeth D'Sa (midfielder) and Sammy Francis (midfielder) and junior Isabella Ginocchi (midfielder) are among the top returnees for the Eagles, who opened Aug. 23 with a 3-1 win over Delaware and beat Olentangy 2-1 on Aug. 25.
"We have a very good mix of experienced returning players and young, talented players," Dempsey said. "It seems like different players are complementing each other very well regardless of whether they're experienced or new to the varsity level. It's a pretty technically talented team with a lot of skilled players."
Watterson, which went 8-8-3 overall and reached a Division I district semifinal last season, also returns five others who saw action a year ago in seniors Kelsey Gleason (defender), Hailey Janoski (forward) and Lauren Lucki (defender), juniors Megan Eberts (midfielder) and Rachel Weaver (midfielder) and sophomore Annie McGraw (goalie).
Others on the team are seniors Emma Schossler (defender) and Audrey Shea (defender), junior Allie Gleason (midfielder), sophomores Erin Connors (forward), Julia Flanagan (defender) and Grace Jenkins (forward) and freshmen Lexie Francis (midfielder), Gabriella Rotolo (midfielder) and Katie Youell (defender).
Rotolo is the younger sister of 2018 graduate Olivia Rotolo, a second-team all-state honoree who is playing for Capital.
Juniors Renee Padavick and Paige Woodford were key players last season who did not return this fall.
"In the second half of (last) year, what we were trying to do was taking hold really well, so we were really happy with the stretch run," Dempsey said. "We'd like to try to pick up where we left off if at all possible."
Volleyball team molds seniors, sophomores
The girls volleyball team is hoping the five seniors and five sophomores that make up its roster prove to be an effective mix this fall.
"We are half seniors and half sophomores, so we're still kind of (young)," second-year coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "They're working really hard. The dynamic is great. They all love each other and support each other."
Watterson, which went 15-9 overall and reached a Division I district semifinal last season, opened Aug. 18 with a 25-13, 25-20, 25-17 loss to defending Division I state champion Cincinnati Ursuline Academy.
Senior Grace Jenkins (outside hitter) and sophomore Olyvia Kennedy (right-side hitter/outside hitter) finished second and third, respectively, in kills for the Eagles last season.
Sophomore Sydney Taylor returns at libero after leading Watterson in serves received and digs and also could see time at outside hitter.
Senior Kari Mercer (defensive specialist) also is a returning starter.
Against Ursuline Academy, sophomore Sophie Mangold saw the majority of the action at setter.
The other seniors are Kate Griffin (setter/outside hitter), Heather Hasenkamp (right-side hitter) and Veronica Merkle (setter/middle hitter).
Rounding out the roster are sophomore returnees Gina Grden (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Margo Lawson (defensive specialist/libero).
The Eagles lost six players from a year ago to graduation, including their leader in kills, Karlyn Hannewald, and their setter, Josie Vondran.
"All of my lineups involve at least nine of the 10, so I think all 10 will get decent playing time," Grieshop said. "We'd love to again get in a position to have a shot at the district (title). Last year we thought we had a shot and kind of walked away disappointed."
Football team out to avenge Orange losses
After beating Olentangy Orange 13-7 in 2015 during the first meeting between the programs, the football team lost to the Pioneers 28-21 in 2016 and 22-0 a season ago.
Last season, Orange finished 9-2 and made its second consecutive Division I playoff appearance.
On Aug. 24, the Eagles opened with a 41-14 loss to Dublin Jerome and the Pioneers beat Worthington Kilbourne 27-26.
Against Jerome, Sam Intihar returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and quarterback Jacob Hoying connected with Davis Boone for a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Against Kilbourne, Orange's Mark Roberts rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Robbie Dayhuff completed five of six passes for 58 yards and one touchdown and rushed 16 times for 130 yards and one score.
Aug. 17 -- vs. Jonathan Alder
Aug. 21 -- at Hamilton Township
Aug. 25 -- at Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 30 -- at Whetstone
*Sept. 4 -- at Hartley
Sept. 8 -- vs. Granville
*Sept. 11 -- at St. Charles
Sept. 15 -- at Rocky River
*Sept. 18 -- at DeSales
Sept. 22 -- Marysville at Mapfre Stadium
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Ready
Sept. 29 -- vs. Tree of Life
Oct. 1 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Oct. 4 -- at Hilliard Bradley
Oct. 6 -- at Upper Arlington
Oct. 13 -- vs. Wellington
Aug. 23 -- at Delaware
Aug. 25 -- Olentangy at Otterbein
Aug. 30 -- Olentangy Berlin at Otterbein
Sept. 1 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 6 -- at Hartley
Sept. 8 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 11 -- at Marysville
*Sept. 13 -- Columbus School for Girls at Otterbein
Sept. 15 -- Pickerington North at Otterbein
*Sept. 20 -- at DeSales
*Sept. 27 -- Ready at Otterbein
Sept. 29 -- at Gahanna
Oct. 4 -- at Dublin Scioto
Oct. 6 -- Rocky River at Otterbein
Oct. 11 -- Olentangy Liberty at Otterbein
Oct. 13 -- at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
Aug. 18 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline Academy
*Aug. 28 -- at Ready
*Aug. 30 -- at Hartley
*Sept. 4 -- at CSG
Sept. 8 -- Louisville (Ky.) Assumption Invitational
*Sept. 11 -- vs. DeSales
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Ready
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Hartley
Sept. 20 -- at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 22 -- vs. Cincinnati Seton and Toledo St. Ursula
*Sept. 27 -- at DeSales
*Oct. 2 -- vs. CSG
Oct. 3 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 6 -- vs. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
Oct. 9 -- vs. Cristo Rey
Oct. 10 -- vs. Central Crossing
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Circleville Invitational
Aug. 30 -- At Granville
Sept. 4 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 1 -- Pinnacle Classic
Aug. 30 -- Granville at Champions
Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 4 -- Home vs. CSG
Sept. 5 -- At Olentangy