During its run to a Division III regional runner-up finish last fall, the Hartley High School football team had 21 players combine to produce more than 4,000 yards rushing.
It wasn't a big shock to junior Jalan January, though, when he became the featured back this season.
Including his performance in a 21-14 victory over DeSales on Oct. 12 in which he rushed 29 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, January has 167 carries for 1,141 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season.
"Last year, I remember looking up to guys like (2018 graduate) Elijah (Carter) and a couple years ago looking up to guys like (2017 graduate) Marquette (Dixon) and realizing what guys before me have done," January said. "They do a great job with the running backs. They let you know and give you time in practice to realize that next year you're going to do this. We have a really next-man-up mentality."
January flashed his potential last season when he averaged 12 yards per carry, finishing with 337 yards on 28 rushes and scoring five touchdowns during a season in which Carter rushed for 1,053 yards and 13 touchdowns and 2018 graduate Alexander Blackmon rushed for 23 scores.
January saw his most extensive action last season when he rushed 11 times for 135 yards and a touchdown in a 34-0 win over Watterson, and he had his best game thus far this season against the Eagles as well.
In a 49-28 win over Watterson on Sept. 28, January rushed 23 times for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
The Hawks have rushed for nearly 2,500 yards this season heading into their matchup Friday, Oct. 19, at home against North Canton Hoover.
Hartley is 6-2 and would make the Division III, Region 11 playoffs if it wins out, while the Vikings also are 6-2 and are battling for a Division II, Region 7 playoff berth.
Like Hartley, Hoover has a strong running game, led by Adam Griguolo with 950 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Against DeSales, junior quarterback Miles Fleming completed four of seven passes for 39 yards and rushed eight times for 68 yards and one score.
"Jalan has been my best friend since fifth grade," Fleming said. "He's balling. He does everything for the team and is so selfless. He's a great player."
January's younger brother, freshman Bryce January, is among the quarterbacks in Hartley's program.
The January family originally is from Flint, Michigan, and their father, Fred, was a standout middle linebacker in high school, according to Jalan. Their mother, Michelle, is a former Whetstone softball player.
According to Jalan, running behind an offensive line that features Payton Collins as well as tight end Jordan Kirkbride has been among the key reasons Hartley again is running the ball effectively this fall.
"It's been a challenge knowing our schedule is a little bit tougher this year than it usually is, but so far I think we've been doing a great job of keeping up the pace and doing what Hartley does best," January said. "I wouldn't be able to do anything without the offensive line. Our whole line has done a great job. We're getting better almost every week and it's only getting better from here."
Deline ends season at district tourney
During her first appearance at the Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek, sophomore girls golfer Nicole Deline shot a 79 to tie for 12th of 54 competitors. She finished four strokes behind Upper Arlington's Emily Hummer, who shot a 75 to earn the second of two individual state-qualifying berths.
Deline shot an 80 in a sectional Oct. 2 at Westchester to advance to district individually.
She is one of three players eligible to return from the program along with sophomore Caroline Berger and freshman Nicola Eramo, who shot 100 and 110, respectively, at sectional as Hartley placed seventh (381).
Kennedy Knuth, who shot a 91 at sectional, will be the biggest loss to graduation.
Hartley placed fourth in the CCL at 2-6 as DeSales and Columbus School for Girls both went 7-1. The Stallions won the tiebreaker for the league title with 751 total strokes in the two-round tournament compared to 764 for the Unicorns.
Runners set for postseason
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in Division II district meets Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby.
The boys are in district 2, in which the top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. There is only one district girls meet, and the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional.
Both teams finished fourth at the CCL meet Oct. 13 at Otterbein.
The boys scored 90 points as St. Charles (28) won the title. Chase Orndoff placed 10th (18 minutes, .21 seconds) to lead the Hawks, followed by Luke Vautour (11th, 18:03.55), Eayual Gebrtsadik (17th, 18:35.29), Christopher Wolf (25th, 19:36.78), Adam Dinovo (27th, 20:24.33) and Patrick Scurlock (29th, 20:42.79).
The girls scored 71 points as Watterson (30) won the CCL championship.
Ellie Kitsmiller finished sixth (21:36.9) to lead the Hawks, followed by Anna Woods (11th, 22:04.33), Bailee Zacovic (15th, 22:22.79), Cara Luallen (19th, 22:35.55), Kate Sheely (20th, 22:50.02), Hannah Kitsmiller (22nd, 23:09.33) and Pailyn Groene (29th, 23:43.3).
Volleyball team cruises into tourney
The girls volleyball team won six of seven matches to close the regular season, including a 25-22, 15-25, 28-26, 22-25, 15-11 victory on Oct. 13 at Huron, which closed the regular season at 19-3.
Seeded fifth, Hartley was 16-6 entering its Division II district tournament opener Oct. 17 against 17th-seeded Columbus International or 18th-seeded Lakewood in a second-round match.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Granville, 10th-seeded Bexley, 12th-seeded Columbus South or 21st-seeded Independence in a district semifinal Oct. 25 at Licking Heights.
Boys soccer team opens postseason
The eighth-seeded boys soccer team played host to 16th-seeded London on Oct. 16 in a first-round Division II district tournament game.
The winner faces 13th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in the second round Saturday, Oct. 20, at the home of the better seed. That winner plays top-seeded DeSales, 15th-seeded Beechcroft or 17th-seeded Sparta Highland in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the home of the better seed.
The district final is Oct. 27.
Hartley had lost six games in a row before playing London, including falling to Worthington Christian 2-0 on Oct. 11 in its regular-season finale.
Girls soccer team begins tourney play
Grace Gill scored four goals as the 35th-seeded girls soccer team opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 15 with an 8-0 win over 33rd-seeded Hamilton Township.
The Hawks improved to 3-12-1 and play at top-seeded Watterson in the second round Thursday, Oct. 18, with that winner facing 14th-seeded Marysville or 22nd-seeded Kilbourne in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 27.
Field hockey team loses tourney opener
On Oct. 15, the 15th-seeded field hockey team opened the district tournament with a 2-0 loss at seventh-seeded Upper Arlington.
Hartley finished 3-14-1.