Groveport Madison: Cruisers focus on improvement before facing Lancaster

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Delaney Wilburn returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown in Groveport's 45-14 win over Reynoldsburg on Sept. 4.

The Groveport Madison football team takes a 2-0 record into its first road game Friday, Sept. 11, at Lancaster, but coach Mitch Westcamp is just as concerned about the process as the results.

A swarming defense has helped the Cruisers outscore their opponents 83-14, and that unit helped set the tone Sept. 4 against Reynoldsburg by creating three turnovers and scoring two touchdowns in a 45-14 win.

“Our goal is to win but at the same time, you have a different outlook on things with everybody making the playoffs,” Westcamp said. “Our big thing is, ‘Are we getting better every week?’ Most years, we’re trying to get into the playoffs but everybody is in the playoffs this year, so you look at each game a little differently.”

In addition to its defensive prowess, Groveport — whose rout of the Raiders came in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener for both teams — again is leaning on an effective run game.

The Cruisers amassed 295 yards on the ground against the Raiders, as Jalil Underdown rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries and Jashaun McGraw added 19 carries for 114 yards and a score.

Underdown’s first touchdown came from 53 yards on Groveport’s first offensive snap, one play after an Elyjah Aekins interception. Underdown later scored on runs of 46 and 5 yards, Delaney Wilburn returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown and Clarence Gossett IV took an interception back 40 yards for a score.

“We’re being really physical and paying attention to everything, watching a lot of film,” Wilburn said. “We feel like people are still doubting us. We know we lost a lot of players (to graduation) but we still have a lot of talent here. We’re motivated to keep getting better every game.”

Groveport will try to snap a 16-game losing streak against Lancaster that dates to 2000. The two played annually until 2015, mostly when both were members of the OCC-Ohio.

The Golden Gales, who like the Cruisers run the wing-T, fell to 0-2 with a 21-18 loss at Central Crossing in OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 4. Lancaster outgained the Comets 169-123 but committed three turnovers in falling to 0-2 for the fifth consecutive year.

Fullback Parker Hill scored both Gales touchdowns on runs of 1 and 2 yards.

“Inexperience and making mistakes and not doing the little things are killing us,” Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said. “I know our kids are dejected, but the goal is to improve each week. We played better than we did (in Week 1) and that’s what it’s all about.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

WEEK 3

GROVEPORT MADISON at LANCASTER

*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11

*Last meeting: 2015, Lancaster 21-6

*Groveport (2-0 overall, 1-0 in OCC-Buckeye) to date: Defeated Westland 38-0; def. Reynoldsburg 45-14

*Lancaster (0-2 overall, 0-1 in OCC-Buckeye) to date: Lost to New Albany 20-13; lost to Central Crossing 21-18

*Top Cruisers: Elyjah Aekins (WR/DB), Te’Ron Coleman (SB), Clarence Gossett (LB), Leland Slaven (OL), Jashaun McGraw (FB/DL), Makarius Mosley (OL/DL), John Motton (WR/DB), Isaiah Rogers (QB) and Jalil Underdown (RB)

*Top Golden Gales: Sam Finck (LB), Zindale Graf (OL/DL), Parker Hill (FB/LB), Titan Johnson (QB), Ajay Locke (FB), Christian Riley (TE) and George Sherrick (RB)