During her three seasons as a starter for the Whetstone girls soccer team, senior Olivia Mullins has shown what coach Doug Kohler calls "ferociousness."
That characteristic made her someone who always made an impact on defense, where she often played center back, but it also would get her an occasional foul.
First-year assistant coach Jimmy Stevens, who was Reynoldsburg's head coach the past five seasons, thought she might be better served as part of the offense.
Mullins had never played forward at any level and couldn't have been more excited to finally experience scoring a goal. She did so twice during a 5-0 win over Westland on Aug. 22 and scored another in a 4-1 victory over Hamilton Township on Aug. 26.
"It's really new because I'm used to saving the goals and not scoring them," Mullins said. "It was definitely hard to get used to the position, but as the season has gone on, I'm definitely happy with this spot and I'm enjoying it. When I put it in the back of the goal, I couldn't help but get a smile on my face. It's a crazy feeling that I've been thinking about since freshman year."
With Mullins now a part of an offense that also features senior midfielder Lily Mathys and junior forward Mira Dush, the Braves had scored 20 goals and were 4-2-2 overall before facing Teays Valley on Sept. 16.
Whetstone opened City League action Sept. 12 with an 8-1 win over Mifflin and continues league play Thursday, Sept. 19, at home against Briggs and Tuesday, Sept. 24, at home against Centennial.
The Braves have lost their last three games against Centennial, including a 4-1 loss to the Stars in the City title game last season.
"All of our (first four) wins (were) shutouts," Kohler said. "We're playing a lot better. We lost three players (from last season), two who were significant, and really only picked up a couple freshmen that are playing some minutes, so it's the same team as last year. We have a brand new goalie (senior Salma Kebe) whose (first) three wins (were) shutouts. We (moved Mullins to forward) probably in about the second scrimmage and that was Jimmy's idea. It really has opened up the field for us with (scoring) opportunities."
Evidence of the Braves' growth came Sept. 10 when they played Mount Vernon to a 2-all tie after losing to the Yellow Jackets 4-0 last season.
Both Mathys, who had two goals against Mifflin, and Dush had five goals through eight games.
"We've been trying to do a lot of through balls and I think that's helped us a lot," Mathys said. "We've been working non-stop on our flaws and I think it really showed. We're making sure everything is solid for (City competition)."
Football team looks to shore up defense
The football team gave up a combined 500 yards of offense while splitting its first two games, falling to Watkins Memorial 38-19 on Aug. 30 and defeating Briggs 55-20 on Sept. 6.
Some of the ups and downs of the first two weeks continued Sept. 13 in a 50-21 loss to South as the Braves allowed 433 yards.
"That's not traditional Whetstone," coach Tom Jones said. "There's been a lot of missed tackles and a lot of fixable stuff, and it will be fixed."
On the other side of the ball, Whetstone enters its City-North Division opener Friday, Sept. 20, at Linden-McKinley averaging 31.7 points. The Braves scored more than that average just one time in 2017 and only twice last season while posting back-to-back 3-7 finishes.
Junior quarterback Alex Hurd threw for three touchdowns against South, with two going to senior Rashaun Broomfield and the other to sophomore Felix Prewitt.
Linden lost to Smithville 27-0 on Sept. 13 to fall to 0-3 and has lost 19 consecutive games. The Panthers' last win came Sept. 15, 2017, when they beat the Reigning Sports Academy club team 20-6, and their last victory over an OHSAA-sanctioned program came Sept. 8, 2017, when they defeated South 12-6.
Linden has lost 18 consecutive City-North games, including a 36-0 loss to Whetstone last season.
Girls volleyball team rolling in league play
The girls volleyball team has taken a big step toward reaching the City championship match after watching Centennial represent the City-North last season.
The Braves were 10-3 overall and 7-0 in the City-North before facing East on Sept. 17, including a 25-18, 18-25, 25-17, 25-23 win over the Stars on Sept. 5.
Whetstone didn't lose a set in any other matches in the first round of league play.
"We're getting stronger week by week, so that helps," coach Errole Rembert said. "We've been hitting the ball well, we're starting to pass it better, our serving is pretty good, but we've still got to finish and keep it going."
The Braves visit Beechcroft on Thursday, Sept. 19, play host to Mifflin on Tuesday, Sept. 24, and then have two other league matches before playing Oct. 1 at Centennial.
If Whetstone and the Stars end up tying for first in the City-North, the Braves would hold the tiebreaker to represent the division in the City title match.
Seniors Alea Millington-Fuqua (middle hitter) and Dahlia Kleen (setter/outside hitter) have been among the key players.
Kleen and junior Megan Harrison have been splitting setting duties in a 6-2 offense.
Rembert has been pleased with the contributions of Kleen, who has been a starter since her freshman season and is "like a coach" on the court.
Millington-Fuqua has been a force offensively and in blocking.
"It's been going really well," Kleen said. "We've totally adapted as a team in the four years I've been here, focusing more on defense and actual plays. All of our girls are very versatile in that you can throw us anywhere. If you look on the court, there are a lot of girls involved in a lot of things. It's still early in the season and I feel like we're still molding together."
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Dublin Jerome Invitational
Sept. 19 -- City League match at TBA
Sept. 19 -- At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 24 -- At Northland
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Briggs
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Centennial
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 21 -- Grandview Invitational
*Sept. 19 -- At Beechcroft. The Braves beat the Cougars 25-2, 25-16, 25-10 on Aug. 27.
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Mifflin. The Braves beat the Punchers 25-6, 25-14, 25-9 on Aug. 29.