Westerville Central: Warhawks set up for future success
With several of its 32 seniors playing key roles, the Westerville Central football team remained one of the top programs in central Ohio and, according to coach Brent Morrison, set itself up to continue that trend.
The Warhawks advanced to the Division I, Region 3 final before losing to top-seeded Pickerington Central 38-7 on Oct. 30 to finish 7-2 overall.
“We’re extremely happy,” Morrison said. “This group of seniors did a phenomenal job, (and) the team in general did. The argument around here has been are they the best team that we’ve ever had and certainly based on how far they made it in the playoffs, they have a legitimate argument. It’s been really fun to have the success that we’ve had with those guys.”
Central went 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish second behind Pickerington North (5-0). The Warhawks lost to North 34-20 on Sept. 4 but then went on to win six consecutive games before losing to the Tigers.
“We’ve established this program to a point where people know what the standard is and we expect these young guys to fill those roles and we just carry on as a program,” Morrison said.
Senior quarterback Judah Holtzclaw had a standout season, completing 109 of 177 passes for 1,339 yards with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was second on the team in rushing with 348 yards and three touchdowns on 83 carries.
“It’s definitely a season to remember,” said Holtzclaw, who was named first-team all-district and all-league. “We thought we left our mark.”
Junior Michael Ross (RB/DB) led the Warhawks in rushing with 924 yards and 13 touchdowns on 137 carries, and senior Luke Swaney (WR/DB) had a team-high 40 receptions for 526 yards and six touchdowns.
Ross and Swaney were named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Junior Jason Robertson (WR/OLB/P) added 30 catches for 315 yards and one touchdown. He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Senior Zeke Healy (RB/LB) led the defense with 75 tackles, followed by seniors Braeden Murray (53, OL/DL), Logan Moore (50, WR/LB), Sam Riccobono (41, WR/DB) and Vince Francescone (40, QB/DB).
Healy and Francescone were first-team all-district and all-league, and Murray was second-team all-district and all-league.
Senior Will Jados (OL/DL) was first-team all-district and second-team all-league, and Moore and senior Brandon Kennedy (OL/DL) were second-team all-league and special mention all-district.
Senior Jimmy Glaser (RB/LB) was special mention all-league and senior Braden Weimer (OL/DL) was honorable mention all-league. Senior Jordan Hensley (OL/DL) was honorable mention all-district.
Other key players eligible to return include juniors Darius Roach (WR/DB) and Andrew Sitz (OL/DL) and sophomore Stanley Jackson Jr. (QB/LB).
“We’re losing a lot, but there’s some guys who can return and play next year,” Holtzclaw said. “There’s certainly going to have to be a lot of guys step up and play very well. We have the coaching and the coaches to put them in the positions they need to be in. There’s a lot of work for them, but they can do it.”
•Record: 7-2 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: Pickerington North (5-0), Westerville Central (4-1), Gahanna (3-2), New Albany (2-3), Grove City (1-4), Westland (0-5)
•Seniors lost: Unisa Bangura, Brandon Buchanan, M.J. Davis, Kyle Denney, Vince Francescone, Owen Franks, Enoch Frimpong, Chase Giammarco, Jimmy Glaser, Dylan Harris, Zeke Healy, Jordan Henley, Judah Holtzclaw, Sean Hunt, Will Jados, Jorden Johnson, Brandon Kennedy, Josiah Mair, Mamadi Kaba, Logan Moore, Braeden Murray, Tommy O'Halloran, Sam Riccobono, Jackson Rittman, Elijah Smith, Isaiah Smith, C.J. Spinosi, Gary Steele, Tate Sterling, Luke Swaney, Mason Toomey and Braden Weimer
•Key returnees: Stanley Jackson Jr., Matthew Nguyen, Darius Roach, Jason Robertson, Michael Ross and Andrew Sitz
•Postseason: Defeated Upper Arlington 21-20; def. New Albany 50-7; lost to Pickerington Central 38-7 in Division I, Region 3 final