Considering the inexperience it had heading into the season, the Reynoldsburg football team anticipated rough moments along the way.
After winning their opener 48-14 over Gahanna on Aug. 28, that is exactly what transpired for the Raiders during a 45-14 loss Sept. 4 at Groveport.
The next step in what coach Buddy White calls a “process” is how Reynoldsburg will respond in matchups such as the one it will face Friday, Sept. 11, when it plays host to Newark.
The Wildcats went 0-10, including a 48-7 loss to Reynoldsburg, when the programs last met in 2015. But Newark seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough the next season as it finished 5-5.
That wasn’t the case, though, as the Wildcats have gone just 4-28 since that time, including 1-9 during coach Bill Franks’ return season last fall.
While the Raiders are 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, the Wildcats are 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye and have been outscored 79-0.
“We’ve got a really young team and you’re going to have a game like (the loss to Groveport),” White said. “This is going to be a wake-up call. We’ll have some good spirited practices (this) week and be ready (for Newark). It’s one game at a time. ... (The Groveport loss) is a great game (from which) to teach.”
Reynoldsburg will be seeking more consistency from its running game after it was limited to 46 yards by the Cruisers.
After passing for four touchdowns in the opener, quarterback Dijon Jennings was 15-for-25 for 144 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
A bright spot for the Raiders has been junior wide receiver Markez Gillam, who had eight catches for 88 yards and one touchdown against Groveport and also had a touchdown reception against Gahanna.
In Newark’s 49-0 loss to Pickerington Central on Sept. 4, it trailed 42-0 at halftime.
“A lot of (Groveport’s success) was our breakdowns,” White said. “Their offense, their backs ran really hard and we missed so many tackles. You can’t miss tackles against good, mature backs like they have.”
Reynoldsburg has won the last nine meetings against Newark, with the Wildcats last winning 10-7 in 1997.
Franks also was the coach at Newark from 1997-2001 and made stops at Newark Catholic and New Lexington before returning to Newark.
The Wildcats, who were in the OCC-Ohio with the Raiders from 2008-16, are led offensively by senior quarterback Jake Sherman and senior wide receiver Garret Ramsey.
After recovering two fumbles and getting interceptions from Jabari Mitchell and Tehron Spencer against Gahanna, the Raiders allowed 344 yards of offense — including 305 on the ground — to Groveport.
“(My players) thought they were all that after beating Gahanna and we didn’t practice and prepare the way we probably should have for (Groveport) because they thought they’d arrived,” White said. “We’re going to learn from this, get in there, correct the mistakes. They know if they don’t play, this is the kind of thing that can happen.
“We’re dealing with a very young team. We want to be ready for Weeks 6 and 7. That’s our goal and this is part of the process.”