Second-year Grove City Christian School football coach Hank Patterson compares his team's early season play to a classic movie.
The Eagles will look to bounce back from a 14-6 loss at New Philadelphia Tuscarawas Central Catholic on Sept. 1 when they play host to Dayton Jefferson Township on Friday, Sept. 7.
"We won that first one big (48-6 over Springfield Catholic Central on Aug. 24). The second one we had a contest and the third one, now it's like 'The Wizard of Oz,' you don't know if you're going down the yellow brick road," Patterson said. "I tell the kids that's what life is. It's like 'The Wizard of Oz.' We have to scale the yellow brick road. If we get off we'll be in trouble."
Jefferson Township, also a Division VII program, will be looking to end a 23-game losing streak. The Broncos' last win was a 32-18 victory over Batavia Clermont Northeastern on Oct. 23, 2015.
Grove City Christian defeated the Broncos 45-6 last season.
"We can't overlook anybody," Patterson said. "We have to have our head up all the time. They have good speed and good size. The thing we might have on them is we're more organized."
The game against Tuscarawas Central Catholic was delayed twice for a total of an hour because of bad weather.
Lukas Hamilton had five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown, Christian Lautenschleger rushed for 79 yards on 19 carries and Brett Baker completed nine of 21 passes for 121 yards and a score.
Tuscarawas Central Catholic outgained the Eagles 239-205.
Patterson said untimely miscues, including six penalties for 50 yards, were keys in the loss.
"If we can put things together, we can win consistently each week," he said. "It's just miscues, penalties and stuff like that. ... We didn't dot the Is and cross the Ts. We had an opportunity to win the game and we blew it with penalties late. I was hoping we could overcome that and get it done."
Girls volleyball team feeling optimistic
With eight players back from last year, the girls volleyball team has high aspirations this season.
The Eagles were 4-4 overall and 1-0 in the MSL-Cardinal Division before playing Fairfield Christian on Sept. 4.
Last season, the Eagles went 6-6 in the league to place fourth behind champion Fairfield Christian (12-0), but 10th-year coach Joe Bradford believes his team can contend for the title.
The Eagles defeated Zanes-ville Rosecrans 16-25, 28-26, 25-13, 25-19 on Aug. 25 in their league opener.
"The key is how we pro-gress," said Bradford, whose team finished 15-9 overall last season. "We've hit 13, 14 wins in the regular season the last three or four years. A lot of things have to go right for us to match that. If we grow and improve I think we have a good chance."
Grove City Christian also is looking to get past the second round of the Division IV district tournament after losing in that round to league-foe Fisher Catholic last season.
Through five matches, senior middle hitter Katie Jacobs led the Eagles with 52 kills and junior outside hitter Ashley Stoll had 26. Senior outside hitter Gidgyt Hartman had a team-high 19 aces, and senior setter Taylor Oda had 98 assists and 46 digs.
Other returnees are senior Brooke Poling (right-side hitter/outside hitter) and juniors Brooke Benson (defensive specialist), Odette Espinoza (defensive specialist) and Maddie Lewis (middle hitter).
Other players are sophomores Alaina Dawson (setter/outside hitter) and Brooke O'Dell (defensive specialist).
Senior Calista Manns, who was first-team all-district and all-league last season at outside hitter, decided not to play this season. Manns also is a standout in track and field.
Boys soccer team seeks continued success
Looking to build on last year's breakthrough season, the boys soccer team is 3-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the MSL-Cardinal.
The Eagles finished 14-2-3 overall last fall and advanced to their first Division III district final, losing to Grandview 4-1.
Grove City Christian went 5-1-2 in the league to finish second behind Wellington (7-0-1). The teams meet Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Grove City Christian and Oct. 3 at Wellington.
"We have potential," third-year coach Dan Milam said. "We have some major holes to fill from the seniors who made great impacts last year, but we're a junior-heavy team and a lot of those juniors have seen playing time, so it's a matter of just playing as a team and everyone relying on each other. It's up to the kids on how far they want to push."
Grove City Christian has returned a solid core led by senior goalkeeper A.J. Gillespie, who was first-team all-district and all-league last season, and junior midfielder Zachary Lauron, who was second-team all-league.
Other key returnees are senior Gavin Robbins (defender) and juniors David Claffey (forward), Juliana Hunt (midfielder), Griffin Milam (midfielder), Seth Ortega (midfielder), Cristian Quiroz (defender) and Carter Stedtefeld (defender).
Senior Carl Richter (midfielder) is an exchange student from Germany and junior Bailey Garren (midfielder/goalie) is a transfer from Ready.
Other players are juniors Maddie Babcock (defender), Richard Gonzalez (midfielder), Ian Hester (midfielder) and Logan Kinstle (midfielder), sophomore Sebastian Sosa (midfielder) and freshman Angel Benitez (defender).
Grove City Christian defeated Fisher Catholic 2-1 on Aug. 29 in its league opener.
Gillespie had six saves and Quiroz scored in a tie at 1-all against Amanda-Clearcreek on Sept. 1.
Aug. 23 -- vs. Delaware Christian
Aug. 25 -- vs. Ready
*Aug. 29 -- at Fisher Catholic
Sept. 1- vs. Amanda-Clearcreek
Sept. 6 -- vs. Tree of Life
*Sept. 8 -- vs. Harvest Prep
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Wellington
*Sept. 15 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
Sept. 18 -- at Central Crossing
*Sept. 22 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
Sept. 25 -- at Worthington Christian
Sept. 27 -- vs. Madison Christian
*Sept. 29 -- at Harvest Prep
*Oct. 3 -- at Wellington
*Oct. 6 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans
Oct. 9 -- vs. Liberty Union
Aug. 19 -- at Grandview with Whetstone
Aug. 23 -- at West Jefferson
*Aug. 25 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
Aug. 28 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 1 -- Worthington Christian Invitational
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Fairfield Christian
*Sept. 6 -- at Berne Union
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Harvest Prep
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
*Sept. 18 -- at Millersport
Sept. 25 -- at Bexley
*Sept. 27 -- at Fairfield Christian
*Sept. 29 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Berne Union
*Oct. 4 -- at Harvest Prep
Oct. 6 -- Briggs Invitational
*Oct. 9 -- at Fisher Catholic
*Oct. 11 -- vs. Millersport
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City Christian cross country and boys golf teams:
Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 8 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry