The previous two seasons, the Dublin Scioto High School hockey team had to utilize players from Coffman and Jerome to have enough to put together a full team.

The previous two seasons, the Dublin Scioto High School hockey team had to utilize players from Coffman and Jerome to have enough to put together a full team.

Last season, the Irish went 0-26-2 overall and 0-13 in the Capital Hockey Conference and weren't allowed to compete in the postseason since they were using players from other schools.

Second-year coach J.J. Stallsworth made it Scioto's top priority during the offseason to recruit enough players from within the school to field a full team. The eight returning players lobbied their friends to skate with the team during the summer and even donated some of their equipment to potential teammates.

Stallsworth created recruiting brochures and placed them in the athletics office and at the Chiller in Dublin. He also set up a table in the cafeteria during lunch periods to try to spark interest in the program.

The work has paid off as 17 players are on the team this season.

After the Irish defeated Cincinnati Elder 10-4 in a scrimmage Nov. 15, Stallsworth said he's optimistic they will be much more competitive this season.

Scioto will open in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic held Friday through Sunday at the Chiller in Dublin. The Irish will play Friday against Burlington (Ontario) Trinity, Saturday against Strongsville B and DeSales and Sunday against an opponent to be determined.

"We searched high and low for more bodies, and it's been a major success," Stallsworth said. "It's a different atmosphere when all of the kids are playing for their own school. They already know each other and they care a lot about the team. The kids we had from Coffman and Jerome did a great job for us, too, but there's nothing that can replace the inspiration you get from representing your school and playing with your classmates."

Last season, the Irish lost their first six games before tying Cincinnati Elder at 4.

Scioto then lost its next 19 and finished last in the CHC behind Coffman (11-2, 22), St. Charles (10-2-1, 21), Jerome (10-3, 20), Olentangy Liberty (8-5, 16), Gahanna (7-5-0-1, 15), Upper Arlington (7-6, 14), Thomas Worthington (6-6-0-1, 13), Worthington Kilbourne (4-9, 8) and DeSales (1-10-1-1, 4). Olentangy and Olentangy Orange have joined the CHC.

Only the top eight CHC teams are eligible to compete for the Blue Jackets Cup title, and DeSales and Scioto ended up playing to a 2-all tie in the ninth-place contest.

Scioto was outscored 177-28 overall and lost 15 games by six or more goals.

"We beat Cincinnati Elder in a scrimmage and that was the first time we've won anything in two years, and that's definitely helping our morale," Stallsworth said. "We took those teams that were beating us 10-0 and 12-1 off our schedule and replaced them with teams that we can be more competitive with. We should be more competitive in our league. Coffman and Olentangy Liberty have most of their players coming back, but the league as a whole lost a large group of talent due to graduation."

Serving as captain is senior A.J. Levell, who plays as both a forward and a defender. Levell had seven goals and six assists a year ago and was Scioto's Most Valuable Player.

Other key returnees are junior forwards Antonio Contreras and Francesco Filice, sophomore forward Andy Harrigan and junior goalkeeper Jake Reed.

Filice had a team-high nine goals and six assists and was the Offensive Player of the Year a year ago. Reed played every minute of every game and made 982 saves for an .822 save percentage and a 6.3 goals-against average. Contreras was Scioto's Most Improved Player and Harrigan was named Scioto's Unsung Hero.

The Irish have added a second goalkeeper in freshman Chris Beatty.

"Chris is doing a nice job as Jake's backup," Stallsworth said. "Jake faced 1,300 shots last year and that's insane."

Manning the rest of the defensive positions are seniors Taylor Capps and Liam Patridge, junior Andy Lee and freshman Grant Noppenberger.

Others playing at forward are seniors Chris Akins and Brian Hilliard, juniors Dalton McCurry and Logan Rosevear, sophomores Colin Best and Aaron Murphy and freshman Reece Harter.

"We're already showing a lot of improvement," Levell said. "We've got much better offensive capabilities. We scored 14 goals in our first two scrimmages, which is half as many goals as we had all last season. I'm predicting our first winning season (since 2004)."

At a glance

•Coach: J.J. Stallsworth, second season

•Opener: Friday vs. Burlington (Ontario) Trinity at Chiller in Dublin

•Key returnees: Antonio Contreras, Francesco Filice, Andy Harrigan, A.J. Levell and Jake Reed