Avery Musick was excited to contribute to the Canal Winchester football team as a senior, and he saw his opening coming from a distance as the Indians lost several key contributors from last season when they finished 9-1.

But Musick didn't have just one opening, he had two.

Not only does the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Musick have 18 catches for 258 yards and five touchdowns, leading the team in each category, but he has parlayed three years of working on his placekicking into being a formidable option on special teams. While he has made half of his eight field goal tries and showcased a range of more than 40 yards, he is 42-for-43 on extra-point attempts and has a 4 1/2-star ranking from national kicking analyst Chris Sailer.

Canal Winchester enters its game Friday, Nov. 1, at Big Walnut hoping for a share of its second consecutive OCC-Capital Division championship. The Indians are 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the league, tied with New Albany for second place behind 4-0 Groveport.

Musick made field goals of 60, 63 and 65 yards at a camp sponsored by KornblueKicking.com in July, the latest step in a turn to his football career that started as nothing serious.

"I wasn't a soccer guy, but I just started kicking as a freshman and I was pretty good, so I stuck with it," he said. "I've been to a lot of camps around the country. I've put in a lot of work and it's starting to pay off. I'd always been behind Trevor (Thompson, a 2019 graduate), but I got to kick some last year and I've always been working on it since I was a freshman. I think I can help our team out a lot putting (kickoffs) into the end zone and helping give our defense a break."

This season, Musick has made field goals of 44, 36, 32 and 20 yards. His four misses were from between 34 and 52 yards and all came in the fourth quarters of games with the Indians comfortably ahead.

"That just shows how hard he worked in the weight room," coach Josh Stratton said. "That's all weight room stuff. It just shows how dedicated he is to get to that point. ...

"Avery has become such a deep threat. He's really helped out our passing game. He is a lot stronger and more explosive than he has been. He's always been a good athlete. He's the best defender on our basketball team; he'll always guard the other teams' best player. He works hard in the weight room and he's done some other stuff that has really helped him athletically."

Musick credited VertiMax, equipment that involves resistance bands and helps athletes with power, speed and vertical jump, for increased strength in his legs.

"A lot of that training transitions from kicking into basketball," said Musick, who hopes to kick in college but is awaiting scholarship offers. "They're both quick motions. With kicking, you explode and then with basketball, obviously, you need quick movements to get to the rim and play against defenders."

Musick hopes to add to his achievements this week, when a win could help Canal Winchester secure a playoff berth and earn a first-round home game. The Indians were projected to be sixth in Division II, Region 8 this week.

The top eight teams in each region make the playoffs and the top four play host to first-round games.

Canal Winchester is coming off a 49-0 home win over Newark on Oct. 25 in which Stephan Byrd rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. Tyler Toledo had six carries for 101 yards and a score and caught a 36-yard touchdown pass.

That same night, Big Walnut fell to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the league with a 49-0 loss at Groveport.

"There is always room for improvement, but we just have to keep growing," Musick said, referring to he and fellow receiver Elijah Bulluck, who has 11 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. "I'm more of a route-running guy. (Bulluck) is probably better going up to get the ball. I think it's a pretty good 1-2 punch, to get me going underneath and have him go deep.

"We're always pushing to run because we know that's going to open up the passing game. We've been doing a good job of that."

Cross country season ends at regional

Girls cross country runners Bonnie Butler and Allena Klamorick came up short of competing in the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway, as their seasons ended at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.

Klamorick placed 26th (19 minutes, 42.1 seconds) of 130 runners and Butler finished 42nd (20:14.8) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state.

Butler and Klamorick, who are juniors, were seeking to become the Indians' first state competitors since Kayla Scott in 2011.

Most of the girls team's top seven runners are eligible to return, including freshmen Elise Hamilton, Marissa Klamorick, Brooklyne Redmon and Alyssa Weller.

The boys team is losing its top two runners in seniors Reece Klamorick and Drew Kotwis but should return the rest of its lineup in juniors Nate Hoffman, Ian Lewis, Michael McKeon and Brett Smithers and sophomore Carson Reeb.

Girls soccer team ousted by Lions

The girls soccer team's season came to an end Oct. 23 with a 1-0 home loss to 16th-seeded Gahanna in a Division I district semifinal.

Canal Winchester, which was seeded 14th of 45 teams, finished 9-5-5 overall and 4-0-1 in the OCC-Capital to share its second league championship in three years with Big Walnut.

The Indians are losing nine seniors, including several of their top players in defenders Sydney Byrd, Cassie Kolon-chuk and Angela Postage, forwards Lindsey Davis, Anaya Edwards and Lexi Snider, forward/midfielder Josie Sanders and goalkeeper Keely Snode.

Byrd, a four-year starter, is a Wisconsin-Green Bay commit and Sanders has committed to Eastern Kentucky.

Players eligible to return include juniors Kylee Boss (midfielder) and Holly Counts (forward/defender) and sophomores Ashlyn Hurley (forward) and Payton McKinlay (forward/defender).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave