Of the more than 75 players who were a part of the Watterson High School football program, 29 were juniors.

Of the more than 75 players who were a part of the Watterson High School football program, 29 were juniors.

With that in mind, whether the Eagles are able to bounce back a year from now after finishing 3-7 overall for their third losing season in four years likely will depend on the steps that class takes over the next several months.

Several juniors were key players on offense by the season's end for Watterson, which had two of its best performances in its final two games -- a 25-0 victory over Zanesville on Oct. 21 and a 34-27 loss to Cincinnati Winton Woods on Oct. 28.

"Our focus is on what we do," coach Dan Bjelac said. "We're not going to worry about our potential because it's about just trying to get better. The (junior varsity) had a decent year."

The Eagles also earned victories over Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (27-14 on Sept. 9) and Cleveland Benedictine (10-7 on Sept. 23), but went 0-2 in the CCL-Silver Division to finish behind DeSales (2-0) and St. Charles (1-1) and lost to Hartley (42-7 on Oct. 14) in a non-league game between CCL programs.

Next season, three playoff teams -- Dublin Jerome (Division I), Wheelersburg (Division V) and Whitehall (Division III) -- will be added to the schedule.

Junior Cole Andrews was the team's No. 1 quarterback for most of the season and completed 36 of 107 passes for 588 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Junior running back Nick DePalma, who rushed 48 times for 211 yards and one score, and junior wide receivers Casey Calhoun (13 receptions for 134 yards) and Nate Meyer (1 TD) also are expected to take on key roles on offense.

Juniors Riley Fortkamp and Kyle Simmonds were starters on the offensive line and junior Charlie Spencer started at tight end. Junior Kyle Naderhoff saw action at fullback.

Defensively, Meyer (DB, 26.5 tackles) and juniors Perry Finnegan (LB, 21 tackles), Cameron Headlee (LB, 26.5 tackles), Jack Frecker (DB, 5 pass breakups), Cort Marbaugh (DB) and Spencer (DL) were key players.

Junior Kevin Laming should be back at kicker after making four field goals and eight extra points. Andrews was among the team's three punters.

The Eagles' top two rushers, Adam Kasun (663 yards, 5 TDs) and Nick Bowen (377 yards, 3 TDs), were among the Eagles' 18 seniors.

Defensively, the biggest losses will be Max Bratka (LB, team-leading 60.5 tackles), Nick Geisler (LB, 10 tackles for loss), Hayden Paul (DL, 9 tackles for loss) and Will Fortkamp (DL, 6 tackles for loss).

Several key runnerseligible to return

Both the boys and girls cross country teams had four seniors among their respective top seven runners by season's end.

Among the seniors on the girls team were seniors Sam Mikula and Anna Stinnett, who finished 43rd (20 minutes, 50.93 seconds) and 51st (20:56.87), respectively, in the Division I regional meet Oct. 29 at Pickerington North.

The girls finished with 18 points to win the CCL meet Oct. 15 at Otterbein University ahead of CSG (65), DeSales (70), Hartley (78) and Ready (143) and then finished eighth (173) in the 13-team district 2 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (55).

Also competing at district were seniors Alessandra Cunningham and Ashley Samuelson, junior Kelsi Connors, sophomore Emily Latshaw and freshman Sarah Heink.

"This year we had (15) senior girls, and we had just a nice group of girls," coach Matt McGowan said. "If you looked at us in August, we weren't that good, but that's why we have a season."

Junior Nick Kuraly represented the boys team at regional, placing 63rd (17:27.37). He was 14th (16:24.93) in the district 2 meet as the Eagles placed ninth (224) of 16 teams, behind champion Hilliard Davidson (74).

Also competing at district were seniors Mike Grunenwald, Nick Haley and Ross Kuhn and juniors Shane Merklin and Patrick Monnin.

The boys finished second (45) in the CCL meet behind St. Charles (20) and ahead of DeSales (86), Hartley (94) and Ready (149).

"We had some nice guys that came around," McGowan said.