The 11 seniors on the Columbus Academy football team helped set "a new standard" for the program.

The 11 seniors on the Columbus Academy football team helped set "a new standard" for the program.

That was second-year coach Robin Miller's assessment after the Vikings earned their first postseason berth since 2006.

Sixth-seeded Academy finished 8-3 overall, losing at third-seeded Milan Edison 30-14 in the first round of the Division V, Region 18 playoffs Nov. 5.

The Vikings went 4-6 in Miller's first season.

"The seniors have been through a lot and they've done everything I've asked and more to turn the ship around and set a new standard," Miller said. "They've raised the bar, and I told our underclassmen the bar has been set and they have some awfully big shoes to fill. I hope they exceed the standards that these seniors have set."

The Vikings' season included a five-game winning streak and a 37-0 victory over London in the regular-season finale Oct. 28 to secure the postseason berth.

Academy went 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division to finish second behind Bexley (6-0) and ahead of Whitehall (4-2), Grandview (3-3), West Jefferson (2-4), London (1-5) and Madison Plains (0-6).

The Vikings lost to Bexley 28-14 on Oct. 21.

Bexley and Whitehall also qualified for the playoffs, with Bexley losing to Hamilton Township 26-20 in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal Nov. 12 and Whitehall losing to Bexley 31-21 in the first round Nov. 5.

Senior Roman Bellisari, whom Miller called "the heart and soul of the team" at linebacker, missed the London and Edison games after undergoing left shoulder surgery. Miller said Bellisari, who also saw time at running back, played most of the season with the injury.

Bellisari had 53 tackles and four interceptions and was named first-team all-district and all-league. He also rushed for 232 yards and five touchdowns on 27 carries.

Junior Herman Moultrie (RB/DB) led the Vikings in rushing with 938 yards and 13 touchdowns on 139 carries and was first-team all-district and all-league.

Senior Jeremiah Mills (OL/DL) also was first-team all-district and all-league.

Senior Nick Stringer (QB/LB) completed 127 of 214 passes for 1,404 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.

Junior Jerome Buckner (WR/DB) was first-team all-district and second-team all-league after catching 48 passes for 551 yards and eight touchdowns.

"I was proud to be a part of the Columbus Academy team that (returned) to the playoffs," Buckner said. "We hadn't made it there in 10 years, so that was definitely a great accomplishment."

Sophomore Dorrian Moultrie (WR/DB) had 42 receptions for 444 yards and four touchdowns and was second-team all-district and all-league.

Junior Josh Pearson (RB/LB) rushed for 293 yards and six touchdowns and was second-team all-league.

Freshman Sam Massick (K/P) was second-team all-district and senior Brett Bates (TE/DL) was second-team all-league.

Juniors John Schiano (RB/LB) and Matt Schiano (WR/DB) and senior Darren Bates (OL/DL) were honorable mention all-league.

Other key players eligible to return include juniors Davis Friedman (RB/LB) and Carson Nichols (OL/DL) and sophomore Dalyn DeCree (OL/DL).

"It was a great year," Miller said. "We exceeded expectations and the kids worked hard. First time back in the playoffs in 10 years (and) an 8-2 regular-season record, it's awfully exciting."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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