With just one game remaining in the season and eliminated from postseason contention, Whitehall football coach Rod Lightfoot realizes his team is playing for pride Friday, Nov. 1, against visiting Buckeye Valley.
The Rams saw their playoff hopes dashed with a 29-27 loss at Harvest Prep on Oct. 25, as they fell to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Whitehall was projected to be 15th in Division II, Region 8 this week and mathematically eliminated from the postseason chase. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
"We have another game left and hopefully we finish with a winning season," Lightfoot said. "I'm proud of the effort of our guys (against Harvest Prep). They're not going to tank on this (final game). It's going to be a letdown. It's going to hurt a little bit, but our kids are resilient. They'll come back. There's another game to play. Get up for that and let's go have some fun."
Whitehall also saw its league title hopes end, with Harvest Prep improving to 5-0 in the MSL-Ohio. The Warriors, who have clinched at least a share of the league title, close the regular season Nov. 1 against Liberty Union.
Columbus Academy is 4-1 in the league and plays Bexley on Nov. 1.
The Rams won the league title last season at 5-0.
Whitehall trailed Harvest Prep 29-13 in the third quarter before staging a late comeback that fell short.
Ni'Kai Cameron threw 16-yard touchdown passes to Juvaun Blackshear and Christian Gordon to pull Whitehall within two points. The Rams had one final possession beginning near midfield in the closing minute, but lost the ball on downs.
Cameron completed 19 of 26 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Gordon had seven catches for 83 yards and three scores, and Blackshear rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries.
"I'm proud of our kids," Lightfoot said. "They fought hard. We had every opportunity to win this game and we just came up short."
Buckeye Valley, which is in its first season in the MSL-Ohio, defeated Liberty Union 49-25 on Oct. 25 as Andre Ash rushed for 308 yards and five touchdowns.
The Barons are 1-8 overall and 1-4 in the league.
"On offense, we need to just play our game and put points up on the board," Gordon said. "On defense, everyone needs to do their jobs and make big stops. The big goal is to get a 'W.' "
Girls soccer team earns three wins
The girls soccer team finished 3-12-1 under first-year coach Maria Shipe.
The Rams defeated Mifflin by identical 8-0 scores on Sept. 30 and Oct. 10, and beat Cristo Rey 1-0 on Oct. 2. They tied Heath at 1 on Sept. 9.
Sophomore midfielder Brooklynn Greer led the Rams with a program-record nine goals and three assists.
Junior forward Ryyair Smith had four goals, and sophomore Abril Garcia emerged as the starting goalkeeper.
"Abril did really well," Shipe said. "You could tell she got really strong by the end of the season. She stepped up."
The Rams will lose 10 players to graduation, including midfielder Selamawit Alebachew and midfielder/defender Yabesera Tadesse. Alebachew was honorable mention all-league.
"They brought a positive influence to the team," Shipe said. "All of the seniors were great. They will all be missed."
Other players eligible to return are junior Fatmata Jalloh (midfielder), sophomores Maria Torres Alaniz (forward), Ililli Bakeye (defender), Dalia Matute (defender/goalie) and Jessica Revadelo (defender) and freshmen Dayana Martinez (forward), Teresa Munoz (defender) and Cynthia Rivas (midfielder).
"I enjoyed myself," Shipe said. "It had its ups and downs, like any season, but overall it was good."
Boys cross country coach optimistic
With Carter Paddock being the only senior on the team, boys cross country coach Robert Taylor believes the Rams have a bright future.
The Rams were led by sophomore Daba Hordofe, who placed 60th (17 minutes, 48.4 seconds) in the Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby.
"Daba ran great all year," Taylor said. "He won a lot of medals for us. He led us in every race."
Also competing at district were juniors Adonay Estifanos and Yared Yesuf and sophomores Jordan Burchnell, Keteme Feye, Eyobong Ita and Sam McQuate.
"By the end of the year, (Feye and Ita) were solid No. 2 (and) 3 runners for us," Taylor said. "We just have to close gaps next year."
Seniors Tatiana Figueroa, Amy Hernandez and Cali Justice competed for the girls team at district.
The Rams finished the season with a roster of five seniors. Seniors Rebekah Revadelo and Izzy Simmons were the other runners.
Coach Natasha Gallagher hopes to rebuild the team for next year.
"We have no one coming back at the moment because they're all seniors," she said. "We have four eighth-graders at Rosemore (Middle School)."
Girls volleyball team seeking new coach
Athletics director Bill Hughett announced Oct. 24 that Haley Bright would not return as girls volleyball coach after one season.
The Rams finished 2-19 overall and 0-12 in the MSL-Ohio.
Senior middle hitter Kaila Daugherty was second-team all-league and sophomore setter/outside hitter/ Mya Fuller was honorable mention all-league. Juniors Kylie Brown (defensive specialist), Kristina Desenberg (outside hitter) and Kyland Wooden (setter/right-side hitter/outside hitter) also are eligible to return.