Gahanna Lincoln: Lions look to rebound against Westland
It's been 14 years since the Gahanna Lincoln football team faced Westland, and the circumstances were decidedly different.
In 2006, the Lions lost to the Cougars 40-28 in a Week 6 non-league matchup but both programs went on to qualify for the Division I playoffs.
Now both part of the OCC-Ohio Division, Gahanna and Westland could each end up in the postseason because everyone is eligible following a six-week regular season, but both have work to do to be competitive once they get to that level.
After the Lions lost to Reynoldsburg 48-14 and the Cougars fell to Groveport 38-0 on Aug. 28, the teams will meet Friday, Sept. 4, at Westland in a league opener.
"We can't take anything for granted and we've got to play," Gahanna coach Bruce Ward said. "We shot ourselves in the foot all night long (against Reynoldsburg). We didn't punt until the third quarter. We're going in and we fumble on the (4-yard line). We made a lot of mistakes, but we're 16 days into practicing so this was like our first scrimmage.
"I know everybody's in the same shoes. ... We're disappointed that we lost, but we've got to be realistic, too, and know where we are."
In Gahanna's opener, senior quarterback Trey Burger was intercepted three times but completed 14 of 26 passes for 143 yards and had four rushes for 34 yards and one touchdown.
Senior running back Ronald Blackman had three carries for 47 yards and one touchdown and five receptions for 97 yards. Junior wide receiver Kane Baker also had five catches.
Reynoldsburg finished with 365 yards of offense, with junior quarterback Dijon Jennings throwing for 135 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 82 yards and one score.
"Reynoldsburg's a good team," Ward said. "That's a good test for Week 1."
Westland went 4-6 in 2015 but has gone 3-38 since that time, including losing 10 in a row.
Junior Jovaan Cooper is at quarterback for the Cougars, with junior Tim Smith as one of their top running backs. Seniors Hayden Hughes and Colton Bogle lead the offensive line.
The Westland defense features junior defensive back Seth Westmoreland and junior linebacker Jakob Hurley. Westmoreland was second-team all-league and Hurley was special-mention all-league in the OCC-Central last fall.
"We've got a lot of deficiencies we have to clean up if we want to make a run," Ward said. "We don't expect to be at our best today."
GAHANNA LINCOLN at WESTLAND
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*Last meeting: 2006, Westland 40-28
*Gahanna (0-1) to date: Lost to Reynoldsburg 48-14
*Westland (0-1) to date: Lost to Groveport 38-0
*Top Lions: Ricky Alli (RB/LB), Tommy Bailey (OL/DL), Kane Baker (WR/DB), Trey Burger (QB), Ronald Blackman (RB/DB), Mondra Curry (RB/LB), Mykohl Martin (OL/DL), Brendan Raymond (WR/DB) and Jaden Yates (RB/LB)
*Top Cougars: Colton Bogle (OL), Jovaan Cooper (QB), Zane Gibbs-Aguon (WR), Payton Hayes (OL/DL), Hayden Hughes (OL/DL), Jakob Hurley (LB), Tim Smith (RB/DB) and Seth Westmoreland (DB)