Central Crossing football coach Trevor White's message to his team after a season-ending 35-0 loss at Marysville on Nov. 1, as well as during postseason talks with his players last week, was to reflect on more than the Comets' record.
"You look at our record and the scores and the guys might have gotten down on themselves a little bit," said White, whose team went 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Central Division.
"The talk for us coming into the season was the large number of kids we had to replace. We knew we'd need to count on a lot of guys who'd played very few varsity snaps and, on top of that, we play in one of the toughest conferences in the state. We played five playoff teams. Winning those games is a tall task."
The Comets' wins came at Beechcroft (10-0 on Sept. 6), at home against Newark (49-0 on Sept. 27) and at Westland (17-13 on Oct. 17). Beechcroft went on to finish 7-3, and Newark and Westland both finished 1-9.
Central Crossing opened with a 34-3 loss at Dublin Jerome on Aug. 30. Jerome went 8-2 during the regular season and earned the second seed in Division I, Region 2.
Among the other playoff teams on the Comets' schedule, they lost to Reynoldsburg (17-15 on Sept. 20) and fell to OCC-Central foes Hilliard Davidson (35-0 on Oct. 4), Dublin Coffman (49-7 on Oct. 11) and Marysville.
The Comets, who also lost to Upper Arlington 35-14 on Oct. 25 to round out league play, finished fifth in the OCC-Central behind tri-champions Coffman, Davidson and UA (4-1).
Several of the team's top skill-position players are graduating, including both of their quarterbacks in Drew DeYarmon and Logan Green and versatile threat Anthony Lowe.
Lowe caught 33 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries and, as a defensive back, had 51 tackles and two interceptions.
Green completed 40 of 89 passes for 554 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. DeYarmon was 25-for-47 passing for 247 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Senior defensive lineman Trent Rivers had 47.5 tackles, including eight for loss and four sacks, and was named first-team all-league along with Lowe.
Senior Lance Blackwell (OL) and juniors Kyren Glaze (RB/DB), Tristen Needham (OL/DL) and Tyler Terrell (K/P) were second-team all-league, senior Tye Bradley (WR/DB) was special mention all-league and senior Matt Frye (LB/OL) was honorable mention all-league.
"Lowe is a special guy all around, on and off the field. We're really going to miss him," White said. "We started the year with a ton of question marks. We'll have some next year, of course, but not as many."
Although Central Crossing will be moved into a different division next year as part of OCC realignment, matters might not get any easier.
The Comets' new division will include Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg. Central has won 13 of the past 14 OCC-Ohio championships, was Division I state champion in 2017 and made the playoffs for the 17th time in 18 years, and Groveport also made the postseason for the first time since 2007, sharing the OCC-Capital championship with Canal Winchester and New Albany.
Central Crossing will open the 2020 season at home against Division IV, Region 15 playoff qualifier Marion-Franklin -- which is coached by former Comets offensive coordinator David Lakso -- and also will play non-league games against Canal Winchester, Grove City, Northland and UA.
"It's no walk in the park," White said. "I told the guys that now, it's OK to get excited and look forward to next year.
"We'll turn the page and next year's seniors will begin to take their responsibility leading the program."