The Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer team has been considered one of the top programs in the area since its inaugural season in 2004.

The Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer team has been considered one of the top programs in the area since its inaugural season in 2004.

The Celtics were state semifinalists in 2005 and 2008, won district titles in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 and won OCC championships in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Jerome has finished 8-7-3 overall the past two seasons, however, and ninth-year coach Nate Maust wants to see the Celtics raise their level of play.

"Jerome needs to get back to where we were when we were constantly in a district final," said Maust, whose team opened against Olentangy on Aug. 21 and begins OCC-Cardinal Division play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Hilliard Bradley. "We want to at least get to a district final and see if we can't get into the regional and further. There's no reason why Jerome can't be in the district final every year."

Last season, Jerome went 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to place third, behind Dublin Scioto (7-0) and Olentangy Liberty (5-1-1) and ahead of Westerville Central (2-2-3), Westerville South (2-3-2), Westerville North (2-4-1), Olentangy (1-5-1) and Marysville (0-6-1).

As part of OCC realignment, Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne have moved into the OCC-Cardinal. Liberty, which was the Division I state runner-up last year, and Marysville moved to the OCC-Central and Olentangy went to the OCC-Capital.

Seeded eighth in the Division I district tournament last year, Jerome defeated Northland 5-0 in its opener before losing to Reynoldsburg 2-1 in a semifinal.

The Celtics return 11 players in seniors Brad Hakim (defender), Andres Isea (midfielder/forward), Ian Keller (midfielder), Jake Kidwell (defender), Kyle Moser (midfielder/forward), Bryan Organ (midfielder/forward), Tyler Sabers (defender) and Justin Stephens (defender/midfielder) and juniors Eli Eynon (goalkeeper), Jesse Hokanson (forward) and Austin Larsen (midfielder).

Kidwell was special mention all-league last season.

"It's teamwork," Isea said when asked what is the key to this season. "It's playing with each other and not trying to be selfish and go all by yourself, but using the other 10 players that you have on the field."

Also on the team are juniors Jon Aslo (midfielder), Graham Stecz (defender) and Cassidy Wang (midfielder), sophomores Drew Bergwall (midfielder), Noah Frey (midfielder), Aaron Muresan (midfielder) and Eric Rozsits (midfielder) and freshman Brennon Davis (goalie).

"We have some good veteran seniors coming back, but we're young," Maust said. "We're not used to playing together. There's definitely the desire."

Among the players the Celtics lost to graduation were defenders Joe Davison, Nick Goldbeck and Connor Ward. Last season, Davison was first-team all-league and all-district, Goldbeck was first-team all-league and third-team all-district and Ward was second-team all-league.

Coffman looking for return trip to regional

Coffman is looking to build on last season, when it finished 11-7-1 overall and advanced to a Division I regional final for the first time.

The Shamrocks, who opened against Pickerington North on Aug. 21 and begin OCC-Central play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Hilliard Davidson, were seeded fifth in the district tournament and defeated Franklin Heights (9-0 in second round), 11th-seeded Westerville North (3-1 in district semifinal) and top-seeded Scioto (2-1 in district final) to win their first district title since 2008.

Coffman then defeated Reynoldsburg 4-0 in a regional semifinal before losing to eventual state runner-up Liberty 3-1.

"Last year was great," fourth-year coach Steve Watts said. "It was the furthest Coffman had ever been in the tournament, but these guys are viewing that as a steppingstone. We don't want that to be the pinnacle of the program. We think we can go even further this year. We're going to try to use last season as something to build on and use that experience this year to try and make another run."

The Shamrocks return 12 players in seniors Justin Garcia (defender), Nick Gualtieri (midfielder), Marcus Manarolla (midfielder), Ryan Prescott (forward), Trent Rantala (goalie), Zack Vollmer (defender) and Aaron Willis (defender), juniors Andrew Louvers (midfielder), Nick Olmstead (defender), Liam Pyles (forward) and Jason Strine (forward) and sophomore Ben Kinney (forward).

Gualtieri, Prescott and Rantala are team captains.

"We're hoping to do just as well, if not better, than last year," Gualtieri said. "We've talked about how good a year we had last year, but we've also said how we really don't want to settle for that. We want to be able to get into the state final four possibly, and a state championship would be great."

Also on the team are seniors Zach Myers (midfielder) and Kyle White (goalie), junior Todd Turner (defender) and sophomores Seth Barrett (midfielder), Patrick Gualtieri (forward) and Drew Krueger (midfielder).

"They know my expectations for them are very high this year, as we do have a lot of talent," Watts said. "We have some experience. Probably the best thing about these guys is they just work their butts off and, as a coach, that's the biggest thing you can ask for. These guys would run through a brick wall if I asked them to."

Key losses to graduation were forward Zak Leedom, who was first-team all-league and all-district last year, and midfielder Ray Gans, who was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.

The Shamrocks went 5-1-1 in the OCC-Central last year to finish second, behind Upper Arlington (6-0-1) and ahead of Kilbourne (3-0-4), Davidson (3-2-2), Darby (2-3-2), Thomas Worthington (2-3-2), Westland (1-6) and Central Crossing (0-7).

Scioto hoping to defend league title

Despite losing several key players to graduation, fifth-year Scioto coach Chad Snider is hoping his team can compete for a second consecutive league title.

Last season, the Irish finished 18-1 overall and captured their first OCC title since winning back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003 by going 7-0 in the OCC-Cardinal.

The top seed in the Division I district tournament, Scioto defeated Logan (5-0 in second round) and Davidson (2-1 in district semifinal) before losing to Coffman 2-1 in a district final.

"It was a lot of fun last year," said Snider, who was named OCC-Cardinal and district Coach of the Year last season. "We refer back to it all the time in what they did and what they were able to do."

Scioto, which opened against Zanesville on Aug. 21, begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at Westerville Central.

The Irish return four players in seniors Josh Ashwill (goalie) and Taylor Dyson (forward) and juniors Jack Shirley (midfielder) and Joe Stephens (defender). Ashwill was second-team all-league last year.

"I would love a winning season, so I'm just working toward that," Stephens said.

Also on the team are seniors Tim Kocher (defender), Shakhriyor Mirjalilov (forward) and Mohammed Mohammed (forward/midfielder), juniors Muhammad Anandika (midfielder), Greg Berrigan (midfielder), Evan Ekis (defender) and Ryan Young (midfielder/ forward), sophomores Aidan Farrell (defender), Jon Gaunt (defender), Nick McCoy (goalie) and Jack Shadoan (forward) and freshmen Nile Ismail (midfielder), Matthew Scoliere (defender), Nathan Trinh (defender) and Koh Yamakawa (midfielder).

The Irish lost 12 players from a year ago to graduation, including midfielder Cheick Diawara, who was league and district Player of the Year last season. Other key losses included midfielder Ryan Gibson, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, and forward Kevin McMahon, who was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.

In addition to not having much experience, the Irish don't much size. Snider is hoping his players don't wear down against bigger, physical teams.

"We have a lot of talent," he said.

"We just don't have the size yet. It will come together. They've looked pretty good so far. It's a matter of just getting them into the system and getting used to each other. They'll be solid by mid to the end of the season."