Westland High School senior football player DeShawn Evans said it didn't take long for him to stop thinking about last year's 41-28 loss to Franklin Heights.
Not only did the Cougars lose the Week 4 game but they lost Evans, their starting quarterback, for the remainder of the season when he suffered a broken right ankle on the team's second offensive play from scrimmage.
The injury occurred when Evans scrambled for a short gain up the middle.
"I try to put it behind me. It's part of football, stuff like that happens," he said. "We're looking to come out (this week) and play a strong game."
The Cougars and Falcons meet again Friday, Sept. 14, at Franklin Heights with Evans looking to continue his early season success.
In the first two games, Evans, who also punts, completed 55 of 90 passes for 695 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions as the Cougars scored 76 points.
He was 26-for-44 passing for 334 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions in a 46-44 loss to visiting Marion-Franklin on Aug. 31. The Red Devils scored the winning points on a safety late in the fourth quarter.
"He's been really good," said coach Rick Rios, whose team was 0-2 before playing Delaware on Sept. 7. "The best thing about him is he's done a pretty good job keeping his composure no matter what. On the sidelines he communicates well with what he sees and what he's asking about. He does a good job with the receivers talking about where they should be or what he's looking at. He's very cerebral."
Being a leader and setting an example for his teammates are important to Evans. After being injured last fall, he underwent intensive rehabilitation and returned to the boys basketball team in late December.
Following basketball, Evans continued training for football in hopes of delivering a strong senior season.
"We're happy with how these first two games went," he said. "We're not happy with the outcomes, but we think we're playing well and it would be great if we all start clicking and get some wins."
Franklin Heights leads the all-time series 17-6 and has won the last eight meetings, with the Cougars' last win coming in 1984 (12-3). The Falcons were 0-2 before playing Briggs on Sept. 7.
For Rios, who is in his first season, having Evans at quarterback has been a key to the coaching transition.
"The biggest thing is he's coachable," Rios said. "I was worried coming in that a kid that can already do some things, you wonder how coachable he will be as a senior and a first-year coach. He has taken to me exceptionally well."
Evans and Rios both pointed to a strong effort from the offensive line as a key to the early success. Evans had yet to be sacked through two games.
"Our offensive line is doing amazing," Evans said. "I have 90 passing attempts and I haven't been sacked yet. ... It's good (to know) that when we drop back in the backfield, we don't have to worry about the defensive line or anybody coming."
Dominick Hughes (C), Abraham Ornelas (LG) and Jorge Rodriguez (LT) have been key contributors on the line, according to Rios, and Evans hasn't been the only standout on offense.
Against Marion-Franklin, Peterson Iresne rushed for 110 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. Isaiah Dukes had seven catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns, and Robert Clark added nine receptions for 96 yards and a score.
Anthony Widen had 17 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns through two games, and Peterson had rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries.
Evans would like to play football in college and Rios said that process recently began.
"It's always been a dream since I was a kid," Evans said. "My dad (Steve) played in college, so since a young age I wanted to go to the next level."
Steve Evans attended high school in Anaheim, California, and played fullback at Arizona State and later Urbana.
DeShawn Evans was raised in Urbana before moving to central Ohio before seventh grade.
Cross country teams host South-West meet
The boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Best of the South-West meet Sept. 1 at home.
The boys finished third (53) behind Central Crossing (30) and Grove City (40). Franklin Heights did not have enough runners for a team score.
Kevin Reyes was third of 20 runners in 11 minutes, 4 seconds, to lead the Cougars. Christian Placencia was seventh (11:24.9) and Billy Holland finished 11th (11:44).
The girls finished third (59) behind Grove City (22) and Central Crossing (53). Aja Nathans was third of 18 runners in 13:34 to lead Westland, and Jordyn Anderson was 12th (15:50).
Girls volleyball team battling adversity
The girls volleyball team is playing well, according to coach Nicole Zumpano, despite battling an early season injury.
Westland was 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Dublin Coffman on Sept. 6.
Zumpano said senior outside hitter Madison Green is out with an injury, but other players have stepped in to contribute.
"We have a big loss with Maddie out with an upper-body injury, but others are stepping up," Zumpano said. "We moved Hannah (Walls) back to the middle as she gives us a better block. Ashley (DuMelle) is now playing outside and we have a healthy competition between Alyana Neal and Alaina Russell for the other outside."
The Cougars opened OCC-Central play with a 23-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-11 loss at Marysville on Sept. 4.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 15 -- Galion Festival at Amann's Reservoir Park
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 13 -- At Marysville
*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 15 -- At Liberty Union
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Sept. 11 -- At Worthington Christian
Sept. 12 -- At Marion Harding
*Sept. 13 -- At Upper Arlington
Sept. 15 -- At Briggs