Hindered by injuries, the Whetstone High School football team was never able to put all the pieces together this season.
"We only won back-to-back games once this year," coach Don Poff said after his team lost to Centennial 23-20 on Oct. 27 to finish 3-7 overall. "It's impossible to be satisfied with a losing season. We felt very confident in the summer, but we were plagued with injuries and other issues."
The Braves lost their first three games before opening City League-North Division play with a 26-6 win over East on Sept. 15. They followed up that victory with a 20-6 win over Linden-McKinley on Sept. 22, but won only one of their final five games, beating the Columbus Crusaders club team 34-7 on Oct. 20.
Whetstone finished 2-4 in the league to place fifth, behind tri-champions Beechcroft, Mifflin and Northland (all 5-1) and Centennial (3-3) and ahead of East (1-5) and Linden (0-6).
The Braves are losing 14 seniors, including T.J. Johnson (TE/LB), Oshea Jones (WR/DB), Daniel Kasprovic (OL/DL), Lincoln Mullins (FB/LB) and Ibrahim Sesay (WR/DB).
Sesay and Mullins were four-year letterwinners. Sesay, who led central Ohio with eight interceptions and had 13 receptions for 298 yards, was named first-team all-league.
Johnson, who led the team in tackles with 89 and had 14 receptions for 143 yards, made second-team all-league.
Jones had 13 catches for 165 yards, and Mullins was strong blocker who finished with 212 yards rushing on 51 carries.
"Ibrahim and Lincoln will be tough to replace," Poff said. "T.J. Johnson had a good season, leading the team in tackles, and also will be missed greatly. Daniel Kasprovic missed the last four games with an injury, but he was the only senior on the line."
Among the expected key returnees are juniors Terris Crider (QB), Gerard Reynolds (DE), Darius Richardson (OL/DL), Ephrayim Robinson (TE/LB) and Mike Woodard (OL/DL) and sophomores Rashaun Broomfield (DB), Marlon Curry (FB/LB), Jacob Flanagan (OL), Mike Lacy (RB/DB) and Ben Paugh (LB).
Crider was 57-for-132 passing for 697 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 201 yards on 99 carries.
"Next year we return almost our entire offensive line, which will be a huge plus," Poff said. "We also return our defensive line and some key skill guys. Based on the injuries we suffered, the weight room will prove especially important this offseason.
"We should have a great crew next year with a lot of experience under their belts now. Broomfield, Crider, Reynolds, Woodard, Richardson, Paugh and Lacy played well together and could help provide us with a great year if they work hard in the offseason and commit to being leaders and showing leadership."
Boys soccer team expected more
The boys soccer team was expecting a better record this season.
The Braves will try to improve on their 7-10-1 overall mark next season, when seven starters are expected to return.
"The season was sort of a disappointment," coach Larry Howell said. "The team had high hopes to have a winning record. We had some nice runs and also gave a few games away in which we blew nice leads."
The season ended Oct. 21 when the Braves lost at top-seeded Olentangy Liberty 5-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Seeded 40th of 47 teams, Whetstone upset 32nd-seeded Central Crossing 2-1 in overtime in the first round Oct. 18.
"That was the highlight of our season, beating (Central Crossing) in overtime at their place to avenge (a 1-0 loss on Aug. 24)," Howell said. "I was very happy even though we lost at Olentangy Liberty. We played a very respectable game against the top seed."
The Braves went 4-2-1 in the City League-North Division to place third behind champion Beechcroft (6-0-1).
Whetstone is losing eight seniors in Abdirahman Ahmed (midfielder), Quinn Blosser (forward), Jared Brown (defender), Atticus Bulgrin (midfielder), Jacob Hochstetler (defender), Mitchell Hughes (midfielder), Brenton Morrison (midfielder) and Francisco Soto (forward).
Brown was named first-team all-league and Ahmed was honorable mention all-league.
According to Howell, Hughes shared the team lead in goals with junior forward Tyler Coleman and led the team in assists.
"I was happy with the senior class," Howell said. "They worked hard and showed good leadership all season.
"Next season looks good on paper with seven of 11 starters returning and a lot of individuals who saw considerable playing time on varsity."
Expected to return are Coleman, juniors Kurtis Chenowith (defender), Brandon Clem (defender), Nathan Hochstetler (goalkeeper), Edmund Michel (defender), Louis Schirmer (defender) and Nathan Vokac (forward).
Clem was named first-team all-league, Schirmer made second team and Coleman was honorable mention.
"We're expecting big things from Kurtis Chenowith, Tyler Coleman, Louis Schirmer and Brandon Clem next year," Howell said. "With seven starters back, plus the others with experience, we will be aiming higher."