For all that has changed in Tennyson Varney’s life in the past year – becoming Grove City High School’s football coach after three years at Franklin Heights – there has been at least one constant.
Varney is a career-based intervention teacher at Central Crossing, which happens to be the Dawgs’ opponent on a crosstown road trip Friday, Sept. 8.
“I’ve been at Central Crossing four years and some of the football players have messaged me on Twitter with the final score of last year’s game,” Varney said, referring to the Comets’ 28-21 win in the first meeting between the programs. “I know some of the players, but they’re younger guys. It’s a fun week at both schools. It’s a fun rivalry and we expect a great game.”
Both teams are seeking their first win after 0-2 starts.
The Comets fell to Hartley, the Division IV state champion each of the past two years, 31-6 on Sept. 1. That same night, Grove City hung tough with Olentangy before falling 21-10 in its home opener.
The Dawgs have lost 13 consecutive games dating to the 2015 season.
While Varney teaches at Central Crossing, Comets coach Trevor White teaches social studies at Finland Middle School but is no stranger to the rivalry, even though this is his first year with the program.
“As a Grove City resident, I’ve heard all about it for a while,” White said. “The kids know each other and they have fun with it. It was huge for them to win that game last year. I’ve known coach Varney for several years and respect him immensely. This game is great for the community.”
In last year’s meeting, Kameron Peck completed 18 of 25 passes for 201 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Owen Lakso’s interception in the end zone in the closing seconds sealed the win.
Peck was the Comets’ quarterback most of last year while 2017 graduate Deric Williamson was injured, but he was edged for the starting job this season by Ben Bohne.
Against Hartley, Bohne was 6-for-18 passing for 60 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He threw a 22-yard score to Eddie Ferguson in the third quarter.
Central Crossing gained only 79 total yards and gave up 470, including 352 rushing.
“He’s coming along,” White said of Bohne, a senior. “He’s young as far as experience goes, but he’s a great kid and a hard worker. This is a solid, athletic pass defense we’re going to see (against Grove City), and that means our entire offense is going to have to make strides this week.”
Linebackers D.J. Gatewood, Cameron Lowther and Steven Napper and defensive lineman Rex Chadeye, Tanner Stevens and Jared Willet pace a Dawgs defense that shut out Olentangy in the second half.
Justin Swavely kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first half and Austin Sigler threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Christian Funk with 10 minutes to play.
Senior running back Devin Dukes, a transfer from Ready, was ruled eligible by the OHSAA the day before the game and made his Grove City debut against Olentangy.
“We have lots of room for growth, but we are making strides,” Varney said.
“The offense is starting to jell a lot, and it has a lot of kids who don’t have a lot of experience. Not a lot of our kids got to play varsity before this year. We’ve put together good second halves in each of our first two games. The big thing for us is we have to start better.”