Westland Roundup: Football team to sit out postseason
Amid the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Ohio football programs were given the option of participating in the postseason or opting out.
That was a difficult decision for Westland coach Rick Rios, but with concern for the overall safety of his players, he has decided the Cougars will not compete in the Division I, Region 3 playoffs, which begin Friday, Oct. 9.
The Cougars began the season with 47 players, but that number has dropped to 35 mainly because of injuries.
“The decision was a little easier with all of our injuries,” Rios said. “Now we usually have 31 or 32 guys dressed because there’s always a guy who’s sick. This has been the worst (in the three seasons) since I’ve been here. ... In 31 years of coaching, I wasn’t prepared for this.”
Seniors Rahkim Foster (OL) and Ibrahim Kamara (DL/LB) have not played a down this season because of unspecified injuries. Both were starters last season.
Teams that opt out of the playoffs have been given the chance to continue with the regular season, and the Cougars will visit Thomas Worthington on Oct. 9 in a recently added contest. The Cardinals also have opted out of the Region 3 playoffs.
“Thomas Worthington is a game you hope to compete in,” Rios said. “You hope to build a little momentum into the offseason.”
The Cougars originally were supposed to play Thomas in the season opener before the schedule was changed so teams could begin the playoffs in Week 7.
Junior linebacker Jakob Hurley was disappointed with the decision not to compete in the postseason, but understands it’s likely best for the team.
“It would have been nice to play some talent just to get used to it, but we would have probably played a No. 1 seed, a really high seed,” Hurley said. “Now we’re going to be able to have confidence. We’re going to play a team around our skill-base. (Thomas) will be a good game for us as a confidence-booster.”
Rios hopes to add more games given that programs still have the opportunity to play a 10-game schedule.
The Cougars were 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Grove City on Oct. 2.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Hurley said of his team’s season. “It’s not the results that we wanted. We haven’t been doing the best. Our schedule was tough. We had one of the toughest schedules.”
Westland lost to Westerville Central 56-7 on Sept. 25 in a game in which it was outgained 492-89.
Tim Smith rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries to lead the Cougars. Quarterback Jovaan Cooper scored on a 20-yard run in the third quarter.
“I still like the way our kids are competing,” Rios said. “I still like our attitude.”
With the limited roster as the season continued, Westland was able to play only two junior varsity contests. Rios hopes to resume a j.v. schedule next season.
“I really like the culture that we’re building within, but at some point, we have to do a better job of managing the controllable things for us,” he said.
vie at Jerome
The boys cross country team received solid efforts in the Celtic Clash on Sept. 26 at Dublin Jerome.
Competing in the six-team group A open race, Westland finished third (100) behind champion Jerome (21).
Drew Hutchinson was fourth of 106 runners in 19 minutes, 23.77 seconds. George Reyes was 13th (20:13.42) and Tyler Aiken was 38th (21:40.58).
Coach Josh Barkeloo said the meet was added to the schedule after Columbus City Schools temporarily postponed athletics and its schools canceled meets.
“We ran in the open race because I felt like it would provide a similar competition level compared to meets at Whetstone and Walnut Ridge that we had to drop when Columbus City Schools shut things down,” Barkeloo said. “I was very proud of my guys and how they ran. They stuck to a race plan and executed it well.
“We had been a couple weeks without an official race and you could tell that they were hungry for competition.”
likes recent effort
The girls volleyball team entered its contest against Dublin Scioto on Sept. 29 looking to end a seven-match losing streak.
The Cougars fell to 3-11 overall with a 23-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-23 loss at Westerville South on Sept. 28.
“It was a good team effort (against South),” coach Nicole Zumpano said. “Even with injuries and position changes, we put together a solid performance.”
Westland was 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio before beginning the second round of league play Oct. 1 against Gahanna.