Being in the same league as two programs that played for a Division I regional title last year is one of the obstacles the Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer team must deal with this season.
Another is losing eight players to graduation after going 7-8-3 overall and finishing fourth (1-3-1) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Gahanna (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1) and Grove City (3-2).
What the Raiders have in their corner is a large junior class that features several players who gained experience last season. Reynoldsburg lost 3-1 in the second round of the district tournament to Gahanna, which lost to North 1-0 in a regional final.
The Raiders opened Aug. 24 by losing 1-0 to Westerville South but beat Licking Heights 4-1 on Aug. 26.
“We’re going to be competitive with everybody,” fourth-year coach Jimmy Stevens said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll beat a team like Pickerington North or Gahanna because they’re just deeper. We’re talented, and we’re hoping to be one of the top 15 or 16 in the area.”
The only seniors are defenders Brooklynn Golden, Shayna Newsom and Emily Snedegar.
Juniors Julia Bazley (center back), Caitlyn McKean (midfielder) and Mary Kate Watkins (forward) and sophomore midfielder Isa Fuentes are the top returnees. Sophomores Alissa Richmond and Alexa Sheffield are splitting time at goalkeeper.
Freshman forward Ryanne Buck is the sister of 2017 graduate Sam Buck, who scored 25 goals last season and now is playing for Ohio Dominican.
Other juniors are Alexis Langwasser (center back) and Alyssa Shiffman (forward), while sophomore midfielder Kendall Craiglow also is a key player.
Against Licking Heights, Buck, Langwasser, Sheffield and Watkins each scored one goal.
“We have the same problem Reynoldsburg always has had compared to schools with the same number of students,” Stevens said. “We’re under-populated with soccer players. We’ve got 32 on the team but I probably have eight of them who are learning soccer, and high school is about experience. We’ve got a big junior class, and that’s where most of our experience is.”
Football team looks
to again beat Cards
On Friday, Sept. 1, the football team will try to beat St. Charles for the third consecutive season when it visits the Cardinals.
Reynoldsburg beat the Cardinals 37-22 in 2015 and 30-0 last season.
The Raiders opened Aug. 24 by losing 15-13 to New Albany, while the Cardinals began their season Aug. 25 by falling 53-0 to Upper Arlington.
Reynoldsburg’s defensive front, which features senior linemen Jay Amburgey, Mike Jeffery and Elijah Ratliff and junior linebacker Dezman Cooper, will be tasked with stopping the Cardinals’ triple-option offense.
Coach Buddy White is confident that group will respond.
“A lot of major colleges have been asking about (Amburgey),” White said. “He’s got tall, long arms and is thick and really athletic. Elijah Ratliff has committed to Marshall. Dez Cooper has been a starting outside linebacker since his freshman year.”
Reynoldsburg had beaten New Albany in three of the past five seasons, and all but one of those matchups was decided by a touchdown or less. The teams aren’t scheduled to play next season.
The Raiders’ J’Vonte Edwards scored on an 8-yard run in the second quarter. Then in the fourth, Guy Cowans-Wright ran in from 15 yards but Reynoldsburg’s two-point conversion pass failed.
Boys soccer team
has big senior class
Despite losing 10 players to graduation, the boys soccer team again has a big senior class under second-year coach Tony Labudovski.
After finishing 9-8-1 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio, the Raiders have 11 seniors.
Senior Gabe Philhower, a goalie who made special mention all-league and also is the football team’s kicker and punter, is the top returnee.
Other key returnees include seniors Ammar Abupakar (midfielder), Obed Aidoo (forward), Gabriel Blueter (defender), Garrett Chapman (defender) and David Gary (defender).
The Raiders opened Aug. 22 by tying Groveport at 1 and beat Licking Heights 5-1 on Aug. 26.
“It’s going to be a decent year for us,” Labudovski said. “It’s been more of a smooth transition this year with them knowing what to do and what not to do. Right now we’re trying to figure out our back line, but we’re led by 11 seniors and three juniors.”
The other seniors are Vishnu Dahal (midfielder), Bryce Duchesne (defender), Rubbin Jacobs (forward), Gersam Jorga (midfielder) and Alec Kelley (defender).
Junior midfielder Patrick Young also should take on a key role. Juniors Sunit Khatiwoda (midfielder/forward) and Nishan Pokwal (midfielder) are newcomers who Labudovski hopes can contribute.
Also on the team are sophomores Jackson Harms (midfielder), Aidan Hasson (defender/midfielder), Nate Russell (defender) and Nicholas Wallace (midfielder/forward) and freshman Brady Frydl (goalie).
Jacobs scored two goals against Licking Heights.
“I always set the bar high,” Labudovski said. “It’s our goal to win the OCC. This is a different team than last year. This year they’ve got a better work ethic.”
Aug. 22 – vs. Groveport
Aug. 26 – at Licking Heights
Aug. 29 – vs. Newark
Aug. 31 – vs. Westerville South
Sept. 2 – vs. Watkins Memorial
Sept. 5 – at New Albany
Sept. 7 – vs. Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 12 – at Gahanna
Sept. 16 – at Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 19 – vs. Grove City
Sept. 21 – vs. Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 26 – at Pickerington Central
Sept. 28 – vs. Hartley
*Oct. 3 – at Pickerington North
Oct. 5 – at Westerville North
*Oct. 10 – at Lancaster
Aug. 24 – vs. Westerville South
Aug. 26 – vs. Licking Heights
Aug. 29 – at Newark
Aug. 31 – vs. Delaware
Sept. 2 – vs. Watkins Memorial
Sept. 5 – vs. New Albany
Sept. 7 – at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 12 – vs. Gahanna
Sept. 14 – vs. Upper Arlington
*Sept. 19 – at Grove City
*Sept. 26 – vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 30 – at Centennial
*Oct. 3 – at Pickerington North
Oct. 5 – vs. Zanesville
*Oct. 10 – vs. Lancaster
Oct. 12 – at Groveport
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg cross country, boys golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 2 – Westerville North Invitational
Aug. 31 – Hilliard Davidson at Thorn Apple
*Aug. 31 – At Pickerington Central
*Sept. 5 – Home vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 6 – Home vs. Hamilton Township