As the Big Walnut football team prepares for its final non-league contest Friday, Sept. 27, at Marysville, the focus is on building momentum.
The Golden Eagles, who were 2-1 before playing host to Olentangy Orange on Sept. 20, want to be a confident group heading into October and the start of OCC-Capital Division play.
"If we do our jobs ... it will be a great leap forward from years past going into league play," quarterback Jagger Barnett said. "We are starting to believe in ourselves in that we are getting better and better each day. Wins are only going to boost us heading into league play."
Big Walnut was 1-4 entering OCC-Capital play last season and 0-5 in 2017. Two years ago, however, the Golden Eagles went 4-1 in the league and shared the league championship with New Albany despite finishing 4-6 overall.
This season, five of the six OCC-Capital teams had winning records entering Week 4, including Canal Winchester and Groveport both at 3-0.
"We're confident that we can win all of these games, and I think that's different from previous seasons," outside linebacker Ryan Coletta said. "In the past, we've looked at some teams and thought, 'Yeah, they're really good. I think we can come out with a win here.' This year, we're going in saying, 'We can definitely come out with a win here.'"
Big Walnut earned its second consecutive victory Sept. 13, defeating Shelby 21-14 in its home opener.
Barnett threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to John White in the third quarter to break a 14-all tie.
The junior completed nine of 18 passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, and Shane Barnecut had three catches for 46 yards, including a 21-yard score from Barnett.
Tyler Crotinger led the Golden Eagles' ground game, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
"We knew Shelby was going to be a tough opponent, and it just shows that all that work we put in showed on the field against a strong team," said Barnett, who was 32-for-61 passing with 403 yards, three touchdowns and an interception through three games.
The Golden Eagles' defense held Shelby to 178 total yards.
"We're a physical team, and we're running to the ball right now," Coletta said.
Marysville had a 397-270 advantage in total yards in a 21-7 loss to Findlay on Sept. 13. Fullback Ryan Kern rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and quarterback Nate Morey completed 22 of 33 passes for 222 yards.
The Monarchs were 2-1 before playing Grove City on Sept. 20.
Speelman helping to lead volleyball team
The girls volleyball team was 10-6 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Canal Winchester on Sept. 19.
The Golden Eagles defeated Groveport 25-8, 25-11, 25-23 on Sept. 17 and had won 33 consecutive league matches before facing the Indians.
Through 16 matches, Caroline Speelman had a team-high 165 kills, followed by Kassie Bowmar (89), Olivia Pollock (69) and Alex Billings (65).
Bowmar led the team with 55 blocks and Morgan Schull had a team-high 188 digs.
Boys golfers finish second in league
Kyle Williams shot a 2-under par 70 to help the boys golf team finish first in the final round of the OCC-Capital tournament Sept. 11 at Apple Valley.
Big Walnut shot a 309 -- its best score in the four-round tournament -- to finish ahead of second-place New Albany (319).
Also competing for the Golden Eagles were Kolin McKee (76), Austen Bennett (80), Reno Overbaugh (82) and Kenny Schneider (83).
Big Walnut finished second (13-3) in the overall OCC-Capital standings, behind New Albany (15-1) and ahead of Canal Winchester (8-8), Newark (4-12) and Groveport (0-16).
Williams earned league Player of the Year honors with a 73.25 average, while McKee (80.75), Schneider (82.5), Bennett (83.75) and Overbaugh (84.5) all made second-team all-league.
Big Walnut concludes the regular season this week with four events, including the Delaware Cup on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Mill Creek and the Pickerington Central Fall Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Turnberry.
The Golden Eagles then will turn their attention to the Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek. They will be joined at the site by Buckeye Valley, DeSales, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto, Grove City, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Jonathan Alder, Marysville, Olentangy Liberty, Orange, Thomas Worthington, Westerville North and Worthington Kilbourne.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 23 -- OCC Shootout at Little Turtle
Sept. 25 -- Delaware at Bent Tree
Sept. 26 -- Delaware Cup at Mill Creek
Sept. 28 -- Pickerington Central Fall Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 23 -- Watterson at Glenross
Sept. 24 -- Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree
Sept. 26 -- Madison Plains and Teays Valley at Locust Plains
*Sept. 24 -- At Newark
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Gahanna
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Newark
Sept. 26 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 23 -- At Gahanna
Sept. 25 -- At Westerville South
*Sept. 24 -- At New Albany. The Golden Eagles defeated the Eagles 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-17 on Sept. 5.
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Newark. The Golden Eagles defeated the Wildcats 24-26, 25-15, 25-16, 20-25, 15-10 on Sept. 10.