Central Crossing football coach Trevor White was skeptical when Trent Rivers came to him in January and said he wanted to return to the sport after a two-year absence.
Rivers' 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame was not an issue. Neither was his familiarity with the game, as he played his freshman year.
He had concentrated on CrossFit competitions during his sophomore and junior seasons but, at the end of the day, simply missed football.
"When kids come to us and say they want to play, especially their senior year, you take it with a grain of salt. It's more of a 'show me, don't tell me' kind of thing," White said. "You miss a lot more than you hit, but Trent was all in after CrossFit ended in February. He was all in from the start. He was a leader in the weight room. His effort, energy and the way he tries to lift everybody up, it's always been that way."
Rivers' work ethic immediately captivated his teammates, to the point that he was elected captain despite his two-year absence.
On the field, he has 32 tackles -- 27 of which are solo -- as a defensive end and regularly is used as a fullback in short-yardage situations for the Comets, who are 2-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Central Division entering a Thursday, Oct. 17, game at Westland.
Rivers threw himself into CrossFit, saying he barely missed football during his time away, but began to think more about rejoining the team last winter.
"The reason I love CrossFit so much is (because) it has a little bit of everything -- Olympic lifting, gymnastics, running, conditioning. You have handstand walks and handstand pushups. You have to be able to do it all," Rivers said. "But I'd forgotten how much fun I had being on the team. I do regret taking off those two years. I missed having my brothers on the field. I decided to show up one day and I never stopped coming."
Rivers played linebacker over the summer but moved to defensive end during the preseason. He made a career-high eight tackles in a 49-0 win over Newark on Sept. 27 and has 5.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks.
As a fullback, he has 16 carries for 51 yards.
"I love (the defensive line). It's my favorite position," Rivers said. "For one, there's a lot less to think about at defensive end. You really just have one job every play and you have to take care of that job. It's also a lot more physical. Every play, you will have contact. There's a lot more technique to it."
Quarterback Logan Green said Rivers does more than fill gaps on the line.
"Trent's always been a presence on the field no matter what position he's played. He's always been strong," Green said. "When he didn't play, you could tell. We were missing a piece to our class. Anthony Lowe and I had a big influence on him coming back. He just missed the boys, missed playing. Middle linebacker was frustrating for him, but he's thrived on the line."
Central Crossing is coming off a 49-7 loss to Dublin Coffman on Oct. 11. The Comets' only points came on Drew DeYarmon's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Mathers with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left.
That same night, Westland fell to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Central with a 36-14 loss at Marysville. Kyle Bowles and Peterson Iresne rushed for touchdowns of 99 and 2 yards, respectively, to pace the Cougars.
Central Crossing is 10-0 all-time against Westland, including a 31-20 win last year.
The game was moved up a day to partly to avoid competing with the Ohio State-Northwestern game the next night.
"We've grown a lot, especially defensively," said Rivers, who plans to attend college to become a firefighter. "Everybody is communicating really well. As the season has gone on, we have gotten better. We just want to get one step better every game."
Girls volleyball team begins postseason play
The 37th-seeded girls volleyball team opened the Division I district tournament Oct. 14 against 16th-seeded Olentangy.
The winner played 36th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Oct. 16, and that winner advanced to a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, against second-seeded Watterson, 46th-seeded Independence or 47th-seeded Mifflin at Central Crossing.
The Comets finished the regular season at 6-14 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Central after defeating Westland 25-19, 25-16, 25-20 on Oct. 10.
Though 19 matches, Morgan Geddes led the Comets with 229 kills and 35 aces, and Olivia Castle had a team-high 486 assists. Delaney Pfeiffer led with 191 digs and Erin Brothers led with 27 blocks.
-- Scott Hennen
Cross country team prepares for district
The boys and girls cross country teams compete in the Division I, district 2 meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Hilliard Darby.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
The Comets competed in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Davidson.
Rachel Sinyuk finished 34th (22:49.8) as the lone runner for the girls team, and Jake Archer was 41st (19:15.9) as the only participant for the boys team.
-- Scott Hennen
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 17 -- Played 20th-seeded Marysville or 45th-seeded Walnut Ridge in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays top-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, 29th-seeded Mount Vernon or 43rd-seeded Marion Harding in district semifinal Oct. 22 at home of better seed. The Comets are seeded 44th.
Oct. 16 -- Played 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 18th-seeded Thomas Worthington in second round Oct. 19. Winner plays sixth-seeded Watterson, 32nd-seeded Logan or 33rd-seeded Lancaster in district semifinal Oct. 23 at home of better seed. The Comets are seeded 37th.