Needing a victory over Lancaster and help from others to make the Division I playoffs last year, the Reynoldsburg High School football team lost 42-27 in its regular-season finale.
The Raiders are in nearly the exact same situation as they prepare to play host to the Golden Gales on Friday, Oct. 27.
After losing to Pickerington Central 41-7 on Oct. 20, Reynoldsburg is 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division. It was projected to be ninth in Division I, Region 3 heading into its regular-season finale, one spot out of the playoffs.
Lancaster, which used its win over the Raiders last year to move from 10th to eighth and earn a playoff spot, has lost three in a row and is out of the running for the postseason.
The Gales are 4-5 overall and 1-3 in the league after losing to Pickerington North 56-28 on Oct. 20.
"The bottom line is that we've got to handle our business," coach Buddy White said.
The clearest path for the Raiders to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three seasons would include beating Lancaster and having Kettering Fairmont defeat Springfield in a matchup of 6-3 teams. Fairmont was projected to be seventh in Region 3 with Springfield eighth heading into their game Oct. 27.
Hilliard Darby, which is 6-3 and projected to be 10th, will stay in contention if it beats Dublin Scioto on Oct. 27.
The battle for the final playoff spot could come down to how some of the teams the Raiders have beaten, such as Central Crossing and Gahanna, fare in their regular-season finales. Gahanna is 6-3 and plays at Pickerington North, which is 7-2, on Thursday, Oct. 26, while Central Crossing visits Marysville on Oct. 27 in a matchup of 3-6 teams.
Reynoldsburg is coming off a game in which it fell behind 34-0 by halftime and scored its only touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Justin Henry to Shon Strickland with 5 minutes, 59 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Central limited the Raiders to 3.6 yards per carry and intercepted two passes.
Mershawn Rice led the offense with seven catches for 65 yards. Camby Goff had 1.5 tackles for loss, and Dezman Cooper, Elijah Ratliff, D'Lacy Bass and Breyon Eddings each had one tackle for loss.
Lancaster has given up an average of 52.5 points the last two weeks but finished with 427 yards of offense in a 49-36 loss to Gahanna on Oct. 13 and 368 against North.
Shea Goss rushed 37 times for 205 yards in the latest loss.
"One of the things that hurts them is that all of their key guys are going both ways," White said. "Maybe they've worn down in the second halves of their games. The bottom line is that we have to beat Lancaster, and that's never an easy chore. I'm 3-3 against them."
Moyer moves on in cross country
Freshman Avril Moyer will represent the girls cross country team in the Division I regional Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North, where the top 20 individuals will qualify for the state meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
On Oct. 21 in the district 3 meet at Watkins Memorial, Moyer finished 20th (19 minutes, 58.98 seconds) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced.
The Raiders placed 11th (280) of 18 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (25).
Also competing were Chanel Boykins (51st, 21:09.4), Natalie Castello (62nd, 21:24.01), Kasey Lichtner (72nd, 21:47.15), Annalese Roach (75th, 21:56.17), Kristin Sheets (102nd, 23:11.25) and Rachel Watkins (120th, 24:52.74).
The boys were 14th (392) in the 16-team district 3 meet behind champion Olentangy Liberty (49) as freshman Mars Davis led with a 68th-place finish (17:50.02).
Also competing were Jared Dye (78th, 18:08.68), Andy Young (80th, 18:10.27), Brody Swisher (82nd, 18:17.15), Dominic Sabo (89th, 18:40.82), Andy Crider (109th, 20:23.81) and Grant Boone (110th, 20:50.18).
Boys soccer team falls to Wildcats
The 22nd-seeded boys soccer team lost at 12th-seeded Davidson 3-1 on Oct. 18 in the first round of the Division I district tournament to finish 7-4-6 overall.
The Raiders had won three of four games heading into the tournament, including beating Lancaster 2-0 on Oct. 10 for their only OCC-Ohio win.
Reynoldsburg went 1-2-2 in the league to finish behind Pickerington North (5-0), Grove City (3-1-1) and Gahanna (3-2) and ahead of Pickerington Central (1-3-1) and Lancaster (0-5).
"It was 1-0 at the half, but you have to produce 80 minutes of soccer," coach Tony Labudovski said. "We only lost three games (in the regular) season. It's a good group of kids and each week they got better and better."
The Raiders lose a 14-member senior class that featured forward Rubbin Jacobs, who scored 13 goals, and goalkeeper Gabe Philhower.
Juniors Patrick Young (midfielder) and Nishan Pokwal (midfielder) should be among the top returnees. Others eligible to return include junior Sunit Khatiwoda (midfielder/forward), sophomores Jackson Harms (midfielder), Aidan Hasson (defender/midfielder), Nate Russell (defender) and Nicholas Wallace (midfielder/forward) and freshman Brady Frydl (goalie).
Most of girls soccer team set to return
The 29th-seeded girls soccer team lost at third-seeded Gahanna 4-0 on Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The Raiders, who opened the postseason with a 7-1 win over 31st-seeded Marion Harding on Oct. 16, finished 8-10 overall after going 7-8-3 last season.
The improved record came despite having just three seniors in the program.
"We've got a lot of young players that started," coach Jimmy Stevens said. "Like (Gahanna coach Bob McGee) was saying, we scrapped the whole way."
Freshman forward Ryanne Buck scored three goals against Harding and finished with a team-best 10 on the season.
Junior midfielder Caitlyn McKean had eight goals, followed by sophomore midfielders Isa Fuentes (5) and Kendall Craiglow (4).
Sophomores Alissa Richmond and Alexa Sheffield split time in goal.
Juniors Julia Bazley (center back) and Mary Kate Watkins (forward) also were key players.
Others eligible to return include juniors Alexis Langwasser (center back) and Alyssa Shiffman (forward), sophomore Bayoushe King (midfielder) and freshman Cassidy Collins (midfielder).
Reynoldsburg had won five of six before losing to Gahanna and tied Lancaster and Pickerington Central for fourth (1-4) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington North (4-0-1), Gahanna (3-0-2) and Grove City (3-1-1).