Pickerington Central: Tigers enjoyed another 'tremendous season'
The Pickerington Central football team isn’t planning to let one rough game take away from what it accomplished this season.
After winning a second consecutive league championship and at least a share of its 14th league title in 15 seasons by going 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, the Tigers reached at least a Division I state semifinal for the fifth year in a row.
With a 44-3 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the state final Nov. 13 at Fortress Obetz, Central finished 11-1 overall.
“This is a bruise to us, but I’ve been through the valley and this isn’t the valley,” coach Jay Sharrett said. “We had a tremendous season. We had a great senior class that (was a part of two state championships), a state runner-up and a final four appearance with three OCC championships. They’ve won their share of ballgames. We’ll heal up from this and start again in 30 days.”
The Tigers — who also were state runners-up in 2006 and 2011, won state titles in 2017 and last season and lost in a state semifinal in 2018 — were never tested while winning their six regular-season games.
Their only close game of the playoffs came when they beat Mentor 38-31 on Nov. 6 in a state semifinal at New Philadelphia.
St. Xavier, which also beat Central 29-27 in a 2016 state semifinal, held down an offense that had averaged 40.1 points during its 11 victories.
Although the Tigers lost three-year starting quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw to graduation after last year’s title run, senior Garner Wallace filled the gap at quarterback and seniors Nick Mosley (RB) and Lorenzo Styles Jr. (WR) led the way offensively.
Styles is a Notre Dame recruit who was the Player of the Year in both the league and district on offense. He had 16 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns, 43 rushes for 432 yards and three scores, returned three punts for touchdowns, one kickoff for a score and also started in the defensive backfield.
Mosley, who was first-team all-league and all-district, rushed for 1,003 yards and 29 touchdowns on 187 carries.
Wallace finished 62-for-99 passing for 857 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 704 yards and nine scores. He was first-team all-league and special mention all-district.
Senior offensive lineman Keaton Snyder was first-team all-league and all-district, senior offensive lineman Garrett Meek was second-team all-league and senior long snapper and wide receiver Max Lomonico was special mention all-league.
Senior kicker Mitchell Vollmer made five field goals, was 50-for-51 on extra points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Senior Dylan Wagner was the first-team all-league punter.
Defensively, the biggest losses to graduation in addition to Styles will be linebacker William Dukes IV, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, and defensive back A.J. Sanders, who was first-team all-league and special mention all-district.
“This group of seniors, we’re going to hold our heads high,” Styles said. “We had a great season, a great last three years. This was our second state championship game we were at together so I’m not disappointed at all.”
Most of the team’s top returnees will be on defense.
Junior C.J. Doggette (DL) was second-team all-league and first-team all-district, junior Tyler Gillison (DL) was second-team all-league and all-district, sophomore Alex Styles (DB) was second-team all-league and first-team all-district, junior Kobe Asamoah (OL/DL) was special mention all-district, junior Reece Brancifort (LB) was special mention all-district and led the team in tackles and sophomore Kobi Gorman (WR/LB) was honorable mention all-league and special mention all-district.
Junior linebacker Dakari Frazier also will be a returning starter.
Junior Olando Kamara and sophomore Dylan Bryan gained experience at running back.
Junior Josh Rawls and sophomore Braden Montooth were the other quarterbacks on the roster, but both saw limited action.
“We’ve just got to come back better next year,” Gillison said. “I love everybody on this team. They gave their hearts out. We all gave our hearts out for this team.”
•Record: 11-1 overall
•OCC-Buckeye standings: Central (5-0), Groveport (3-1), Central Crossing (2-3), Lancaster (2-3), Reynoldsburg (2-3), Newark (0-4)
•Seniors lost: Donta Crenshaw, William Dukes IV, Gavin Edwards, Kani Hawkins, Caden Hicks, Jorden Howard, Brooks Kunkel, Max Lomonico, Brandon McDougal, Yuell Melesse, Garrett Meek, Nick Mosley, Donovan Sanchez, A.J. Sanders, Joel Sanders, Sirron Smith, Keaton Snyder, Lorenzo Styles Jr., Tyler Turnbull, Mitchell Vollmer, Dylan Wagner, Garner Wallace and Quinn Wills
•Key returnees: Kobe Asamoah, Reece Brancifort, Dylan Bryan, C.J. Doggette, Dakari Frazier, Tyler Gillison, Kobi Gorman, Olando Kamara and Alex Styles
•Postseason: Defeated Grove City 49-0; def. Hilliard Darby 35-16; def. Hilliard Bradley 34-7; def. Westerville Central 38-7; def. Mentor 38-31; lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier 44-3 in Division I state final