A major goal for Westland senior football player Peterson Iresne and his teammates is to lead a culture change within the program.
After a strong effort in Week 1, it appears the Cougars are moving closer to achieving that goal.
Westland defeated host Licking Heights 48-28 on Aug. 30 as Iresne rushed for a career-high 257 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Buddy Workman added 131 yards rushing and three scores.
"We're trying to change the culture of Westland because we've been bad for many years, but this is the year that is going to change," said Iresne, whose team played Marion-Franklin on Sept. 6.
"Last year we had a lot of negativity in the locker room and I feel that is all gone. This team is better, stronger. It's like we're all brothers. We didn't care for each other like that last year. It's different this year."
Westland will play its third consecutive road game to begin the season when it visits Delaware on Friday, Sept. 13. The Pacers won last year's matchup 30-7.
"Last year's game was closer than the score indicated," Delaware coach Scott Wetzel said. "After a year together with their coaches, I expect them to be solid."
The Cougars defeated Delaware 19-14 in 2017 when they finished 1-9.
The Pacers, who played Marysville on Sept. 6, opened the season by defeating Buckeye Valley 35-0 on Aug. 30. Jahi Broussard-Nash rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Blake Eiland ran for 150 yards with a 95-yard touchdown and Luke Jackson added scoring runs of 12 and 5 yards.
"They pounded us last year," Westland coach Rick Rios said. "This is the reason why we're working our butts off in the weight room. That will be another one of those games that you have circled that we feel like we could have performed a little better than we did last year."
Westland suffered a major loss against Licking Heights when Shaun Fannin, a key player at cornerback and wide receiver, sustained a collarbone injury. He is expected to miss about six weeks, according to Rios.
After falling behind 28-0 in the second quarter, Licking Heights rallied to tie the game at 28 before the Cougars regained control.
"The talk was to stay focused, keep doing what we were doing and don't lose focus because that's what we would have done last year," Iresne said.
Iresne scored on a 20-yard run, Workman connected with Kyle Bowles for a 27-yard touchdown and Workman scored on a 10-yard run as the Cougars scored the final 20 points. They rushed for 392 yards and finished with 476 yards in total offense.
"It's the same offense," Rios said. "We have some new wrinkles to it. Now we have an inside, outside running game with a quarterback and a running back. Pick your poison."
Westland won its first opener since 2012, when it defeated the Columbus Crusaders 32-27. It was seeking its first 2-0 start since 2002, when it began 3-0 but went on to finish 5-5.
"(A good start is) really important for us," Rios said. "As young as we are, you want to gain some confidence. I thought the weight room in the offseason was one of the best I've ever been around and you could tell the difference (in the opener)."
Boys soccer coach seeking consistency
The boys soccer team was 1-2-1 before playing Briggs on Sept. 5.
The Cougars defeated Canal Winchester 3-2 on Aug. 27, tied Northland at 3 on Aug. 29, lost to Gahanna 3-0 on Aug. 22 and fell to Grove City 5-0 on Sept. 3.
Trent Beach had 13 saves against Grove City.
"We are a young and inconsistent team right now, playing some good halves and playing some bad halves," coach Jamie Dato said. "We are trying to put together a full 80-minute effort from the entire team. We have had some good moments on offense with nice, quick ball movement, but our lack of a true goal scorer has hampered us in the goal-scoring department.
"Though the scores don't look like it, our defense has played well for the most part during the run of play, as four of our goals against have been off set pieces and we have had one own goal."
Boys golf team to close league play
The boys golf team will play in the final round of the four-round OCC-Central Division tournament Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Darby Creek.
The Cougars are sixth (0-15) behind first-place Upper Arlington (14-1).
Westland finished sixth (463) in the third round Aug. 28 at Apple Valley behind first-place Dublin Coffman (321). Sam Stutz led the Cougars with a 100.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 12 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 10 -- At Marysville
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Zanesville West Muskingum
Sept. 14 -- At Hamilton Township
Sept. 10 -- At Franklin Heights
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Sept. 12 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*Sept. 12 -- At Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Briggs