In his first season as Whitehall-Yearling High School boys soccer coach, T.J. Mohammed hoped to introduce his team to different styles of play and share what he learned as a professional player.
The learning process has continued the entire season, with the Rams finally showing some positive results with the postseason approaching.
Whitehall will compete in Division I after previously playing at the Division II level. The district tournament begins Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The Rams are seeded 46th of 46 teams and have a first-round bye. Whitehall plays at eighth-seeded Olentangy or 45th-seeded Marion-Franklin in the second round Oct. 21.
"Everything is different here to me," said Mohammad, who played professionally in the Ghana Premier League. "You have to balance everything. If you're in America you have to teach them something that is in America. They're learning. Soccer is universal. Everywhere you go you see a different style."
Whitehall turned in its most complete effort of the season in an 8-1 win over London on Oct. 7 in MSL-Ohio Division play.
The Rams were 2-4-3 overall before playing Mifflin on Oct. 11 and finished 2-2-1 in the league.
Whitehall closes the regular season Thursday, Oct. 12, at Thomas Worthington.
"We don't get the result we want every single time, but we work hard and every day we come out here to play hard no matter what team it is," junior Kelvin Gutierrez said. "(On Oct. 7 against London) we got a result. Coach brought a new philosophy to the team. We take more touches on the ball. (We're playing) European-type soccer instead of the American soccer that we used to have."
Against London, junior Bereket Woldeamanuel scored three goals in a span of 1 minute, 17 seconds midway through the first half to give the Rams a 3-0 lead. He finished with four goals.
Whitehall's other league win was a 3-2 victory over Worthington Christian on Sept. 30.
The Rams have been playing without key contributor Lauro Guijosa, a junior who suffered a concussion in a 4-1 loss at Independence on Sept. 26. Mohammad was hoping Guijosa would return this week.
Sophomore Jared Alvarez has been in goal.
Whitehall tied eventual league champion Columbus Academy at 1 on Sept. 18. Academy (3-0-2) finished ahead of Grandview (2-0-3), Bexley (2-1-2), Whitehall, Worthington Christian (1-2-2) and London (0-5).
"We're working hard every day and team chemistry is good," senior Efrem Gebreambes said. "We're ready for the tournament. We can go far."
Mohammad and assistant coach Geral Leka said they also have stressed academics during this transition season.
"We haven't had any complaints about grades," Leka said. "Academically, we want to have (our players on the) honor roll. We're getting a lot of compliments from referees and coaches on (our) behavior. Those are things that (usually) take a while."
to face Bexley
The football team will look to keep its MSL-Ohio title hopes alive when it plays host to Bexley on Friday, Oct. 13.
The Rams improved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the league with a 40-23 win at Liberty Union on Oct. 6.
Bexley fell to 0-7 overall with a 56-0 loss at Teays Valley on Oct. 6. The Lions, who won the MSL-Ohio title last season at 7-0, are 0-3 in the league.
Coach Rod Lightfoot said Bexley will be motivated for the rivalry game.
"They're going to be up (for the game), too," he said. "They may be winless, but we are their biggest rival and they're our biggest rival, so we can't take anything for granted. We know they're going to give us everything they have. We're in no position to be complacent."
London leads the league at 3-0 and plays host to the Rams on Oct. 27.
Against Liberty Union, quarterback Raymell Byrd rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 88 yards and two scores.
For the season, Byrd has rushed for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns and completed 45 of 97 passes for 701 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rasheed Muhammad has rushed for 521 yards and five touchdowns on 101 carries.
Girls tennis team
wraps up season
The girls tennis team closed its season by competing in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Upper Arlington.
Stacey Li went 1-1 in singles, defeating Mifflin's Margaret Olabode 6-0, 6-0 in a play-in match before losing to top-seeded Lexie Brengartner of Olentangy Liberty 6-0, 6-1.
Breonna Jarrells went 0-1 in singles.
In doubles, Taylor Marshall and Desira Henderson received a first-round bye and won by default over Whetstone's Hannah Rizzi and Maria Cao before losing to eventual champions Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenley of Liberty 6-0, 6-0 in a quarterfinal.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling cross country, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- MSL-Ohio meet at London
Oct. 12 -- At Logan Elm
Oct. 16 -- At second-seeded Big Walnut in first round of Division II district tournament. Winner plays fifth-seeded Buckeye Valley or 12th-seeded Lakewood in second round Oct. 19. The Rams are seeded 14th.
*Oct. 12 -- At London. The Rams lost to the Red Raiders 25-19, 25-20, 25-12 on Sept. 21.
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 15th-seeded Lakewood in first round of Division II district tournament. Winner plays 12th-seeded Columbus East in second round Oct. 18. The Rams are seeded eighth.