Grandview Heights: Injuries, COVID-19 protocols kept Bobcats scrambling

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Senior Connor Dobies (right) was special/honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league for Grandview, which finished 0-9 overall and 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Tristin Pierce (12) celebrates a touchdown with Matthew Taylor and Jake Zimmerman during the Bobcats' game against Whitehall on Sept. 4.

The Grandview Heights football team was constantly trying this season to make up for lost time.

The Bobcats returned a young team that needed extra work in the offseason, which they did not get because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

They lost summer workouts and two weeks of contact drills during preseason workouts in August. The result was a 0-9 season, but 14th-year coach Jason Peters had a sense of pride for just how far his team progressed throughout the fall.

“There were two big things I can take from the season,” said Peters, whose team went 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division. “First, I’m so happy that we got to play this year and that they got to play the game that they love.

“More importantly, I’ve never been as proud of a group of kids as this. We got better day after day and week after week. With injuries and COVID, it would have been easy for them to say that they had had enough, but they didn’t. Their ability to overcome adversity and their overall perseverance really blew me away.”

The Bobcats had a six-player senior class of Connor Dobies (RB/LB; special/honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league), Gabhran Downer (OL/DL; special/honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league), Mason Gastesi (RB/DL; special/honorable mention all-district, honorable mention all-league), Roman Stryjewski (OL/DL), Matthew Taylor (OL/LB; special/honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) and Jake Zimmerman (OL/DL).

“We had a small group of seniors, but it was a good group,” Peters said. “They were very instrumental in getting everyone to show up and keep working. Whether leading by example or vocally, they showed up and got to work.

“This will go down as one of my favorite groups of seniors. They will always hold a special place in my heart with the way they stuck with things. It was impressive.”

Junior Connor McCormick (RB/WR/DB) and sophomore Kellen Dowdy (RB/LB) lead the expected returnees. Both were honorable mention all-league.

Juniors Mikael Black (RB/WR/DB), Jake Leach (WR/DB) and Jake Troiano (WR/DB) and sophomores Logan Baker (QB), Maddox Baker (RB), Carter Black (OL/DL), Ian Gecse (TE/DL), Brody Parsley (QB/LB/DB), Tristin Pierce (RB/WR/DB) and Jack Rickert (OL/LB) are other key players expected to return.

“Having a small senior class gave the younger players a lot of opportunities to play, and they played a lot of football,"  Peters said. “We should have a lot of experience coming back, especially in the skill positions, but we have to put together a line. This year, we had no skill experience coming back and a lot up front. Next year, we expect to have a lot at the skill and not a lot up front.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Lanza also saw young players gain vital experience on that side of the ball.

“It was a pretty unique season,” he said. “They are Grandview kids and they worked hard through everything and did what they could to make it a successful season.

“There was quite a bit of youth on the field. They got through playing with big eyes and continued to improve and get better and get stronger each and every day.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

FOOTBALL

Record: 0-9 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: Connor Dobies, Gabhran Downer, Mason Gastesi, Roman Stryjewski, Matthew Taylor and Jake Zimmerman

Key returnees: Logan Baker, Maddox Baker, Carter Black, Mikael Black, Kellen Dowdy, Ian Gecse, Jake Leach, Connor McCormick, Brody Parsley, Tristin Pierce, Jack Rickert and Jake Troiano

Postseason: Lost to Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant 57-6 in first round of Division VI, Region 23 playoffs