The scoreboard showed the Bexley High School football team losing to visiting Harvest Prep 30-0 in its opener Aug. 25, but first-year coach Nathan Castorena saw something else.
Castorena said his young team played its opponent closer than the score indicated.
"We were so close to breaking away and scoring on so many plays, but we were just one guy away from that," he said. "It only takes one player missing their assignment and the play breaks down."
Bexley will look to remedy those breakdowns when it visits Buckeye Valley on Friday, Sept. 1. The Barons also lost their opener, falling to Delaware 21-17 on Aug. 25.
They scored all of their points in the first half, including a 71-yard screen pass from quarterback Grant Owen to wide receiver Joey Verdes on the team's first play from scrimmage. Running back Trent Davies added an 8-yard scoring run.
Defensively, linemen Jack Rotondo and Ethan Stambaugh both had fumble recoveries.
"Buckeye Valley is a solid team that played Delaware tough," Castorena said. "(The Barons) were solid up front, which I think is their strength. It should be a good battle in the trenches."
Harvest Prep had 433 total yards led by Daniel Bangura, who ran for two touchdowns, caught another and threw for a fourth. The senior rushed for 170 yards on 18 carries with scoring runs of 5 and 7 yards. He caught two passes for 106 yards with an 80-yard touchdown, and was 3-for-4 passing for 26 yards with a 20-yard touchdown to Savon Mitchell.
Bangura was Division VII district Offensive Player of the Year last season as Harvest Prep lost in a state semifinal.
"We played a football team with a lot of experience and a good running back," Castorena said. "We have guys who are inexperienced and trying to find themselves and their identity on Friday nights."
Mason Remeis, one of three returning defensive starters for the Lions, said it comes down to his team doing the little things correctly.
"We have potential to do great things," he said. "To do that, we have to make our blocks and our reads. Harvest Prep is a good team and we have to learn from that experience in order to get better."
The Lions forced three turnovers, with defensive backs Connor Moriarty and Anthony Welsh recovering fumbles and defensive back Austin Masters having an interception.
"We need to try not to do too much and just do what we're supposed to do," quarterback Tyler Mitchell said. "We have a system where we need to get 3.5 yards per play, and if we do that we'll move the chains and control the clock."
Girls soccer team
learning new schemes
The girls soccer team is going through a transformation under first-year coach Ryan Leven.
The Lions have moved to a controlled, possession-style offense in an attempt to improve on last season when they finished 7-7-4 overall.
"We're going from a kick-and-run offense to more of a possession offense," said Leven, who replaced Jared Dombrowski after six seasons. "We will have a lot of formations and a lot of positioning by using teammates in space. ...
"Defensively, we'll be running a four-diamond with the traditional stopper and goalie formation. Last year, they ran a flat-four."
Bexley had 11 seniors last fall as it tied Columbus Academy for third (2-1-2) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind champion Worthington Christian (4-0-1). This year, the number of seniors is down to six.
"Last year we had a lot of seniors and now it's time for us to step up to lead the younger kids," said senior Maggie Bunker, who plays forward. "We have good morale and team camaraderie. We know each other well, but we have to communicate better on the field."
Other top returnees include junior midfielder Emma Dressel (second-team all-league) and sophomore forward Morgan Bowers (honorable mention all-league). Senior forward Rachel Gold was honorable mention all-league, but did not return to the team.
Rounding out the senior class are midfielders Abby Fisher and Brie Hoehnke and defenders Katt Clubb, Katie Grunewald and Nicole Hoyer.
Along with Dressel, juniors also include goalkeeper Makayla Burzynski, defender Claire Flora, forward Maya Cuyun-Poole, defender Annie Muscarella and defender Ellie Wilson.
"I like their experience and their desire to win," said Leven, who was an assistant at New Albany last season and led the Gahanna Christian program in 2014. "Experience is the big thing right now. We'll continue to improve as the season goes on."
The Lions were 0-2 before playing Watterson on Aug. 28. Burzynski had six saves in a 1-0 loss to Bloom-Carroll on Aug. 22, and Dressel scored and Burzynski had six saves in a 3-1 loss to Fairfield Union on Aug. 24.
Bexley opened league play Aug. 30 against Whitehall.
Boys soccer team
expects to improve
Coach Jay Scott expects things to fall into place for the boys soccer team in his second season.
The Lions return seven full-time starters and two more part-time starters from a team that finished 8-10 overall and tied Grandview for second (5-2) in the MSL-Ohio behind Worthington Christian (7-0).
Senior midfielder James Powers (first-team all-league) returns after leading the team in scoring with 14 goals and seven assists. Also back are seniors Grant Heilman (forward; 8 goals, 1 assist), Isaac Roe (defender) and Owen Rupp (defender) and juniors Grant Halliday (defender), Christian Roddy (defender) and Nathan Toney (goalie). Toney was second-team all-league with 44 saves.
Junior midfielder Noah Gosnell started part time, as did junior goalie Ben Ziegler.
"I think we're really a more dangerous team than last year," Scott said. "We're more composed on the ball and we are using our ball possession much better. We're looking for those passing channels. Last year, we would get close but couldn't quite pull the trigger. This year, we are very dangerous on set pieces. We have spent a lot of time on set pieces."
The Lions were 3-0 with three shutouts after defeating Chillicothe 4-0 on Aug. 26 behind two goals from Powers.
They defeated Springfield Kenton Ridge 4-0 on Aug. 18 as senior forward Zander Hirsch scored twice and Heilman and Rupp both added a goal. Ziegler had three saves and Toney added two.
Hirsch and senior forward Max Meyer both scored two goals and Powers added another in a 5-0 win over Hartley on Aug. 22. Toney had six saves.
"We have 18 guys on varsity and each one is productive and dangerous on the field in their own way," said Scott, whose team opened league play Aug. 30 against Whitehall. "There isn't a drop-off from the starters to the players coming off the bench. They are all fighting for spots and working toward a common goal of team wins."
Aug. 18 -- vs. Springfield Kenton Ridge
Aug. 22 -- at Hartley
Aug. 26 -- at Chillicothe
*Aug. 30 -- at Whitehall
Sept. 2 -- vs. Big Walnut
*Sept. 6 -- vs. London
Sept. 9 -- at Bloom-Carroll
Sept. 12 -- at Granville
Sept. 16 -- vs. Hamilton Township
*Sept. 20 -- at Worthington Christian
*Sept. 27 -- vs. Grandview
*Oct. 4 -- at Columbus Academy
Oct. 7 -- at Pickerington North
Oct. 10 -- vs. Beechcroft
Oct. 10 -- at Upper Arlington
Oct. 14 -- at St. Charles
Aug. 22 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 24 -- at Fairfield Union
Aug. 28 -- vs. Watterson
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Whitehall
*Sept. 6 -- at London
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
Sept. 14 -- at Big Walnut
Sept. 16 -- vs. Johnstown
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Sept. 23 -- vs. Cincinnati Mariemont
Sept. 25 -- at Hartley
*Sept. 27 -- at Grandview
*Oct. 4 -- at Columbus Academy
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Wellington
Oct. 11 -- at Columbus School for Girls
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley field hockey, boys golf, girls golf and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 6 -- At Olentangy Orange
Aug. 31 -- DeSales at Westchester
Sept. 2 -- Bexley Invitational at Westchester
*Sept. 5 -- Grandview at Airport
Aug. 31 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls in OTCA tournament
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Aug. 31 -- At Whitehall
Sept. 2 -- At Heath
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. London
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Westland