The Groveport Madison High School football team ended its season with a 24-10 loss to visiting New Albany on Oct. 26.

The Cruisers finished 5-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division.

“I wish we could’ve finished on a better note, but we had a real bad first eight minutes to the game,” said coach Bryan Schoonover, whose team was seeking its second winning season in three years. “We had trouble with our shotgun snaps in the rain and we allowed some big plays that really cost us. But every single one of our guys fought and played hard for our seniors.”

Michiah Burton rushed for 55 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries to lead New Albany, which finished 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the league.

Burton scored on a 16-yard run to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The Cruisers tied the score at 7 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Jashaun McGraw, but Burton scored on an 18-yard run and New Albany’s Brode White scooped up a Groveport fumble and returned the ball 15 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.

“After that, we settled down on defense and we moved the ball pretty well, but we were unable to finish our drives,” Schoonover said. “It seemed like every time we had a chance to get back into it with a good drive, we had a bad play, a penalty or turnover that set us back.”

McGraw rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries to lead Groveport, which finished third in the league behind Canal Winchester (5-0) and New Albany.

Cross country season ends for Baker, Haji

Senior Peyton Baker and junior Illyaas Haji of the boys cross country team were unable to extend their seasons to the final week.

The duo represented the Cruisers in the Division I regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.

Haji placed 33rd of 127 runners in 17 minutes, 3.9 seconds and Baker was 45th in 17:12.1, as the top 20 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.

Worthington Kilbourne’s Tanner Williams earned the final state berth in 16:38.2.

“Illyaas and Peyton tried to stick with the strategy of keeping the frontrunners in sight and hanging in a group anywhere from 15th to 30th, but sloppy conditions led to a few miscues,” coach Vincent Gay said. “They were a little disappointed directly afterward, but as they had time to let it all sink in, they realized they had terrific seasons and were happy about that.

“Last year, Peyton became our first regional qualifier since 2007 when our middle school coach Alex Moore made it. This year, he matched Alex by being a regional qualifier for two seasons in a row. Next year, I expect Illyaas to match that as well and hopefully follow that path to get to state.”

Baker and Haji advanced to regional by finishing among the top 20 individuals in the district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Hilliard Darby. Baker was 13th of 97 runners in 16:47.3 and Haji was 14th in a career-best 16:47.8.

Also expected to return after competing at district are junior Jacob Williams and sophomores Eli Jackson, David Neal, Jason Pinkston and Kaleb Wilson.

“We only lose Peyton from the lineup and we’ve got a few incoming freshmen who should be a big help next year,” Gay said. “We learned to compete this year and proved to others that we’re not a write-off any longer. I think we’ll compete for the (OCC-Capital) title next year.”

The girls team did not have any regional qualifiers. Expected to return after competing in the district 2 meet Oct. 20 at Darby are juniors Brianna Chan, Cherub Clarke and Melanie Torres and sophomore Crystal Russell.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek