Although his team struggled in the win column during his three seasons as coach, Mike Lanza believes his Grove City High School football players matured on and off the field.

Although his team struggled in the win column during his three seasons as coach, Mike Lanza believes his Grove City High School football players matured on and off the field.

Lanza stepped down after this season, in which the Dawgs finished 0-10 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division. They went 5-25 under Lanza.

"We had a rough season, that's kind of obvious, but the one thing that was great was our kids showed up every day to practice, they worked hard, they did everything they could every week to try to pull out a win," Lanza said. "We weren't able to get the kind of results we wanted, but it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort on the kids' part."

The Dawgs finished sixth in the league behind Pickerington Central (5-0), Lancaster (4-1), Pickerington North (3-2), Reynoldsburg (2-3) and Gahanna (1-4). Central and North will meet in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal Friday, Nov. 11, and Lancaster also made the Region 3 playoffs.

Grove City's most competitive games were losses to Central Crossing (28-21 on Sept. 9), Marysville (21-14 on Sept. 16) and Franklin Heights (28-14 on Sept. 23).

It was the program's first meeting with Central Crossing.

Lanza credited the team's 23 seniors for providing leadership during a difficult season.

"They had a great offseason, they worked real hard in the weight room and they had great attitudes," Lanza said. "Things just didn't turn out the way we wanted them to."

Senior Chris Witcher (RB/DB) was named first-team all-league, seniors Josh Burgett (TE/DL) and Ethan Hall (RB/DB/P) were second-team all-league, senior Zach Waddle (RB/DL) was special mention all-league and senior Dylan Schoonover (RB/DB) was honorable mention all-league.

Schoonover rushed for 695 yards on 169 carries and Witcher ran for 596 yards on 109 carries. Hall averaged 35.3 yards per punt.

"It was a series of things all year," Burgett said. "Every game we would shoot ourselves in the foot and turn the ball over, just stupid mistakes on our part. We would lose games on our own."

Sophomore D.J. Gatewood (RB/LB) was lost for the season after breaking a leg in a 26-13 loss to Hilliard Davidson in the opener Aug. 26.

Other key players eligible to return include juniors Mark Bowman (TE/LB), Sam Figue-reo (OL/DL), Lucas Forte (RB/LB), Jacob Hamilton (OL/DL), Cameron Lowther (RB/LB), Austin Sigler (QB/DB), Tanner Stevens (OL/DL), Jared Willet (OL/LB) and Justin Willet (RB/LB) and sophomore Kingston McKinstry (RB/DB).

Lanza coached six seasons at Jonathan Alder (1984-89), compiling a 24-36 record. He then spent five seasons at Whitehall (1990-94), where he went 17-33 but was named Division II state and district Coach of the Year in 1993 when the Rams ended an 18-game losing streak and shared the OCC-Capital title.

Lanza then coached 13 seasons at Gahanna (1995-2007), where he went 90-49, including 3-6 in six playoff appearances, and guided the Lions to OCC-Ohio titles in 1998 and 2001. In 1998, Gahanna went 10-0 during the regular season and Lanza was named district Coach of the Year.

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