Bexley: Lions made progress throughout season

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Senior running back Tom Brown and the Bexley football team won their final two games after losing their first six. “Sometimes, winning is just making progress, and we were able to do that each week,” coach Mike Golden said.

Bexley football coach Mike Golden couldn’t have been more proud of the way his team finished the season.

The Lions lost their first six games, but rebounded to win their final two. Golden said they showed continued improvement throughout the season.

“Sometimes, winning is just making progress, and we were able to do that each week,” Golden said. “They kept working through all of it.

"Our first six games were against really solid football teams. Then we got to a place where we were playing against teams similar to our circumstances. Those were teams that lost what they normally do in the summer and in the preseason. We were able to play well against them and win.”

Bexley’s season was uncertain most of the summer because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Just 10 days before the scheduled opener Aug. 28 against MSL-Ohio Division rival Grandview, Bexley canceled the game. However, on Aug. 21, the school board allowed the program to resume practicing.

The 22nd-seeded Lions lost 48-0 at 11th-seeded Carrollton on Oct. 10 in the opening round of the Division IV, Region 15 playoffs. After that, they finally played Grandview on Oct. 16 and won 27-20.

Bexley closed the season Oct. 24 with a 21-20 win over KIPP Columbus.

“It was good for the seniors to get a couple extra games and get some wins,” Golden said. “I am so grateful they got to have a senior season. The circumstances were out of their control.

“They showed a lot of integrity and character. They played that tough early schedule and were able to hang in there. They were a great example for the younger kids that were able to get experience for next year.”

The Lions tied Whitehall for fifth (1-4) in the MSL-Ohio behind champion Columbus Academy (5-0). Bexley did not play Whitehall the season.

Senior Grant Sheridan, a running back/linebacker, said the Lions showed steady improvement.

“To begin with, it was terrifying because we questioned whether we were even going to play,” said Sheridan, who had a team-leading 72 tackles with a fumble recovery and an interception. “We were really fortunate to have a season.

“We didn’t have two-a-days or scrimmages like normal, and it showed early on. As the season progressed, we kept getting better and made the necessary improvements as the season went along.”

Senior quarterback Will Cordle, who moved back to Bexley after living in Texas for a year, completed 73 of 150 passes for 753 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Junior running back Noah Lyons had a team-leading 458 yards rushing with three touchdowns on 81 carries. At linebacker, he had 49 tackles, one interception and four fumble recoveries, returning one for a score.

Sheridan rushed for 111 yards and five touchdowns on 34 carries, and senior running back Tom Brown added 74 yards and one score on 23 carries.

Senior wide receiver Ethan Beckman had a team-high 16 catches for 122 yards, and senior wide receiver Michael Agriesti had 13 catches for 154 yards and three scores. Senior wide receiver Tommy Bloebaum had four catches for 81 yards and one touchdown.

Junior linebacker Calvin Burzynski had 50 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery. Junior defensive back Trey Vollmer had 36 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Juniors Owen Gunther (OL/DL), Kaelen Mathews (TE/DE) and Tommy Webster (OL/DL) and sophomores Dominic Gutter (WR/DB) and Jonathan Spiess (QB/DB) also are key players expected to return.

“We had so many young kids playing,” Golden said. “They were in the lineup and they kept getting better. The seniors also worked hard and played tough. They continued to play hard all season long.”

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Record: 2-6 overall

MSL-Ohio standings: Columbus Academy (5-0), Harvest Prep and Liberty Union (both 4-1), Buckeye Valley (3-2), Bexley and Whitehall (both 1-4), Grandview (0-6)

Seniors lost: Michael Agriesti, Ethan Beckman, Tommy Bloebaum, Tom Brown, Joe Callaghan, Matt Cohn, Will Cordle, Phillip Martin and Grant Sheridan

Key returnees: Calvin Burzynski, Owen Gunther, Dominic Gutter, Noah Lyons, Kaelen Mathews, Jonathan Spiess, Trey Vollmer and Tommy Webster

Postseason: Lost to Carrollton 48-0 in first round of Division IV, Region 15 playoffs