Mike Golden has experienced more than 40 years of opening Friday nights, and the excitement for his first leading the Bexley football program will be no different.
The Lions open Friday, Aug. 30, at home against Waynesville, a southwestern Ohio school located between Cincinnati and Dayton. It will be the first meeting between the programs.
"I think in American culture (home-opening football games are) a nice thing," said Golden, whose team will try to improve on last season's 1-9 record. "TV shows and movies are made about things like that. It's always really nice for the kids to have their home opener and having family and their fellow students there."
Golden, 63, previously was a head coach at Watterson (1988-2002), New Albany (2004), Upper Arlington (2005-13) and Delaware (2014-17). He has a career record of 217-98 in 29 seasons, led Watterson to the Division III state title in 2002 and was in the inaugural class of the Central District Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017.
Waynesville was 6-4 last season, its best finish since going 7-3 in 2014.
"We're excited to be able to come over and play them," third-year coach Scott Jordan said. "It's good that they have a coach like coach Golden. Anytime you can bring in an established coach with that kind of resume, it's good for the school."
The Spartans return seven all-Southwestern Buckeye League players in seniors Anthony Curry (RB/DL), Tanner Fannin (WR/DB), Hunter Fillmore (RB/DB), Mason Lukens (OL/LB), Matthew Moore (OL/DL) and Parker Struewing (WR/DB) and junior Luke Osborn (OL/LB).
"We know (the Spartans) are a spread team and they throw the ball around a lot," Golden said. "They are aggressive on defense and blitz a lot. ... It's a challenge that we're looking forward to."
The Lions will run a hybrid wing-T offense led by first-year starting quarterback Tommy Bloebaum. Last season, the junior caught seven passes for 168 yards and one touchdown as a wide receiver.
Bexley will use a rotation of four running backs in seniors Patrick Beck, Troy Redmond and Grant Sheridan and sophomore Noah Lyons, who is the top returning rusher with 33 carries for 100 yards. Senior Carter Brenner was the leading receiver last season with 35 catches for 295 yards and one score.
The defense will be led by a linebacker corps comprised of Sheridan and senior Ethan Fosnaugh inside with Beck and Lyons outside.
"That opening game is what you have been for working for throughout the offseason," Golden said. "We want to have a successful start to the season.
"We have to have a sense of urgency all week in practice. You can't take a drill, a sprint or a scrimmage play off. You have to give 100 percent on everything."
Girls volleyball team keeps getting better
The girls volleyball team is showing daily improvement, according to second-year coach Mindy Millard.
The Lions had eight seniors last fall, when they finished 13-11 overall and tied Columbus Academy for the MSL-Ohio Division title at 7-1. They have only two seniors this season in defensive specialists Joy Hansen and Thuy Tran, but already have made strides.
"We have a young team but we have a skilled team, and my hope is that you will see better things as the year progresses," said Millard, whose team was 1-1 before opening league play Aug. 27 against Whitehall. "One thing I can say about the girls is they are very receptive to learning and trying. They do what I ask them to do and they work hard. They know that every day and every practice you are learning your spot and becoming a better player."
The Lions began the season without one of their top players in junior middle hitter Grace Glasser. She had 91 kills and 40 blocks last season but is out until October with a knee injury.
Junior Anna Appling (40 aces, 209 assists) has moved from setter to middle hitter with freshman Madison Lampke moving into a setter role.
Other top returnees are sophomore outside hitter Giulia Viglietta (second-team all-league; 78 kills, 17 aces, 61 digs), junior setter Hayley Heideman (34 blocks, 19 aces 58 digs, 126 assists), junior middle hitter Katie Huefner (54 blocks, 75 kills, 26 aces) and junior Megan Lampke, who has moved from setter to defensive specialist.
"They hold each other accountable at a level we didn't have last year," Millard said. "We'll don't let up. They are hammering them with serves. One side is holding the other accountable and vice versa."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Zoe Boxill (middle hitter/outside hitter), Arianna Martin (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Grace Satterwhite (defensive specialist) and sophomore Kelsey Cain (defensive specialist).
The Lions beat West Jefferson 25-11, 25-21, 25-8 on Aug. 17 and lost to Northridge 21-25, 25-12, 25-12, 25-17 on Aug. 20.
"Last year, we worked so hard on changing their mindset to believe in themselves," Millard said. "They have had so many different coaches and disappointing experiences that they didn't have a lot of confidence. We worked so hard on getting them to believe that they can do it and that they have the skills."
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 29 -- Home vs Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 4 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 31 -- Bob Darwin Memorial at Westchester
Sept. 3 -- Hartley at Westchester
*Aug. 29 -- Wellington at Raymond Memorial
Aug. 29 -- At St. Charles
*Aug. 31 -- Home vs. Whitehall
*Aug. 29 -- At Columbus Academy
Sept. 3 -- At Watkins Memorial
Sept. 4 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Aug. 29 -- At Academy
*Sept. 3 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian