The seeds were planted in 2000 for the success enjoyed this season by the Grandview Heights High School football team.

The seeds were planted in 2000 for the success enjoyed this season by the Grandview Heights High School football team.

The Bobcats are 9-0 for the first time since 1955 and are trying to become the first team in program history to go 10-0. They play host to Liberty Union on Friday, Oct. 28, in a showdown of MSL-Cardinal Division unbeatens.

Grandview's success can be traced to youth league games. This year's senior class was the first to complete the Grandview Youth Football Association (GYFA) program.

"We're the first graduating class to go all the way through GYFA and everyone has been pointing to us to be good," senior lineman Will Heydinger said. "That's one reason why the community came up with the program."

Jason Franks, a senior running back, also started with the GYFA. He said learning the fundamentals of the game early and building on-field relationships have been among the keys to high school success.

"We're all like brothers," said Franks, who has 1,129 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 135 carries. "We have played together for so long. We have been playing since we were young and we know each other personally. We all like being together on and off the field."

Heydinger said it wasn't always easy, especially being in the trenches.

"As a kindergartener, I didn't like playing the line. I always wanted to run the ball," he said. "And the running backs would always get in may face about it when they scored. But I enjoy (playing on the line) now. You get used to it."

"When you're younger, you have to cope with being a lineman," senior lineman Joe Anderson said. "At least you can hit someone, and that makes it better."

Anderson said the familiarity with his teammates is like having a sixth sense on the field.

"We know their tendencies," Anderson said of the backfield. "You know when (quarterback Oliver Rouch) is going to throw the ball. ... You know what he's going to do."

The senior class includes Anderson, Colin Broderick (RB/DB), Ethan Calvert (WR/LB/P), Franks, Ryan Grinstead (WR/DB), Heydinger, Carter Jump (OL/DL), Andy Nocar (RB/LB), Rouch, Jake Smith (WR/DB) and kicker Dakota Williams, who has split time with soccer.

Assistant coach Bob Maupin just wanted the kids to know more about the fundamentals of the game when he helped form the GYFA.

"I was a middle school coach and I found out I was spending too much time on fundamentals such as getting down in a three-point stance," said Maupin, who is board member emeritus with the GYFA. "We wanted to have a focus at the youth level to make sure the kids understand the fundamentals of the game such as blocking and tackling as well as sportsmanship and responsibilities such as managing sports and homework. We wanted to teach more than just football."

Coach Jason Peters said the youth program has made a difference for the varsity.

"It's important to find great coaches for the younger groups so when the kids get to high school, we just have to fine-tune the fundamentals, not teach them," Peters said. "We have had that at our lower levels."

The GYFA has four divisions: Flag (kindergarten), Instructional (grades 1-2), Division I (grades 3-4) and Division II (grades 5-6). Justin LeMaster is the league director.

"We teach them 'WIN,' an acronym for 'What's Important Now,'" Maupin said. "It's been our motto. It means work hard today in practice and it takes the pressure off them if they only worry about today. They aren't worrying about what's down the road, only that they need to do what it takes to get better that day."

But to continue to win at the high school level, the Bobcats will have to tackle a Liberty Union team that has won six consecutive games. On Oct. 21, the Lions (8-1 overall, 6-0 MSL-Cardinal) beat West Jefferson 40-9 as Josh Makuch rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

"We want to make the (Division V, Region 19) playoffs, but we want to be league champions first, then we'll see what happens," Anderson said. "We have played well, but we haven't played four full quarters. We have yet to play our best game."

That was the case at Harvest Prep on Oct. 21 when the Bobcats needed 28 second-half points to improve to 6-0 in the MSL-Cardinal with a 41-21 victory. Franks rushed for 140 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns and junior Payton Jones added 92 yards on eight rushes.

Rouch rushed for touchdowns of 3 and 8 yards and was 5-for-9 passing for 100 yards with a 73-yard touchdown to junior Tyler Mosier and a 5-yarder to Smith.

"Every year here, we were the underdog," Rouch said. "Now we're winning and we have a big target on our backs. It feels good. It makes things harder, but we really love it."