Tennyson Varney and Trevor White will attempt to turn around the Grove City and Central Crossing high school football teams.
Varney to lead Dawgs
Tennyson Varney helped turn around the Franklin Heights High School football team. Now he can't wait to achieve similar results as the coach at fellow South-Western City Schools program Grove City.
With school board approval Jan. 9, Varney takes over a Dawgs program that went 5-25 under Mike Lanza, who resigned after his third season.
Grove City finished 0-10 this past season, including losses to Central Crossing (28-21 on Sept. 9) and Franklin Heights (28-14 on Sept. 23). It was the program's first meeting with Central Crossing.
"I graduated from Hamilton Township and I saw what Grove City was back in the 90s when I was in school, and I saw the community pride and the tradition that they had," Varney said. "That's something that I want to try to bring back. I thought I might be the right guy to try to fill that void and bring back that pride and tradition."
After going 1-9 in both 2014 and 2015 -- although it had to forfeit three games in 2015 -- Franklin Heights finished 10-2 this past season, made its second postseason appearance and earned its first playoff win.
Varney, 34, said it was a "real tough" decision to leave Franklin Heights.
"What it's all about is kids and that's what I care most about, and that made the decision very hard to leave one group of kids and go to another group of kids," he said.
Varney guided the Falcons to their first postseason appearance since 1989. They beat Licking Heights 40-32 in a Division II, Region 7 first-round game then lost to Massillon Perry 66-28 in a regional semifinal.
"It was an amazing year, the best year they had in school history," Varney said. "It was definitely a magical year. I enjoyed it and I think the kids enjoyed it."
Before going to Franklin Heights, Varney spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Hamilton Township, including the last four as offensive coordinator.
Varney met his new players Jan. 5 and is preparing to begin an offseason training program.
Sophomore running back D.J. Gatewood is looking forward to being a part of a new era in Grove City football.
"I'm happy with the hire," he said. "I really hoped that we got him. I like his offense. I've had a lot of people tell me that we have a great hire. I feel real confident about our team this year. We have a lot of hungry guys. We're going to turn it around."
Gatewood entered this past season expecting to be a key contributor, but he broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg in the opener Aug. 26 against Hilliard Davidson and missed the rest of the season.
Varney is a 2000 graduate of Hamilton Township, where he played football before continuing his playing career at Urbana and Ohio Dominican. He graduated from Ohio Dominican in 2008.
Varney and his wife, Maria, live in Grove City. He is a career-based intervention teacher at Central Crossing.White ready to guide Comets
After enjoying success in the City League with the Brookhaven and Beechcroft high school football teams, Trevor White is ready for the next step in his career -- leading a Division I program.
With school board approval Jan. 9, White is the new coach at Central Crossing.
He met with his new players Jan. 5 and is looking forward to beginning offseason training with the program.
"It's definitely a new challenge and it's exciting, a chance to coach a school that big in a different conference," White said. "I've loved what I've done, but the new challenge is definitely part of the excitement."
Junior Owen Lakso, who is expected to be a key player next season at running back, wide receiver and defensive back, said the players are excited about playing for White.
Former coach Chris Harr stepped down after seven seasons with the program.
"Besides Harr, the next best coach would be coach White. ... I'm pretty happy with that decision," Lakso said. "With him coaching in the City (League) and at Beechcroft, I believe he's never had a losing season. He can definitely turn us back in the direction where we were going."
White, 41, was named coach at Beechcroft in March 2014 after it was announced Brookhaven was closing at the end of that school year. He guided Beechcroft to the Division III playoffs in 2015 and 2016 and to the Division IV postseason in 2014.
The Cougars went 28-7 under White and finished 10-2 overall last fall, losing to DeSales 38-12 in a regional semifinal after defeating Eastmoor Academy 19-15 in the first round. They went 6-0 to win the City-North Division and captured league titles in each of White's three seasons.
White led Brookhaven to a 23-10 record in three seasons with playoff berths in 2011 and 2013. In 2013, the Bearcats went 9-3 overall and won the City-North at 7-0.
White assisted at Brookhaven from 2000-06 and also had assistant stints at Walnut Ridge (1997-99) and Marion-Franklin (2007-10).
"I've really enjoyed my time (in Columbus City Schools)," White said. "The staff and kids have been outstanding. It really made it a tough decision."
White and his wife, Jessica, have three children and live in Grove City. He teaches social studies in Columbus, but will join South-Western City Schools as a teacher in the fall.
White is looking forward to building the program on and off the field.
"Getting in there, working with kids (to) help them grow and develop and watch them turn into young men, that's what makes it rewarding," he said.
Central Crossing finished 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Central last season after earning Division I, Region 2 playoff berths the previous two years. It lost in the first round both seasons, falling to league-rival Hilliard Davidson 17-9 in 2015 and Cincinnati St. Xavier 50-13 in 2014.
The Comets were 23-49 overall and 15-32 in the OCC-Central under Harr. They finished 7-4 in 2014 and 2015.
"It's an outstanding school and community, the one in which I live in," White said. "I hear great things about the school. Everyone I've dealt with has been outstanding. They've had some pretty good teams and it's an opportunity to compete with the biggest schools in central Ohio with a team that has a chance to be very successful."