Worthington Christian: Warriors turned adversity into motivation
Braden Anderson believes the Worthington Christian football team turned a season of uncertainty into a season to remember.
In addition to being one of only four seniors in a program that had inexperienced players at several key positions, Anderson helped the Warriors battle through injuries and occasionally having players quarantined because of COVID-19 issues.
Worthington Christian finished 7-2 overall and placed second (5-1) in the MSL-Cardinal Division behind Berne Union (5-0).
The Warriors lost to the Rockets 28-21 on Oct. 2 and followed Oct. 17 by falling to 13th-seeded Lucasville Valley 27-21 as the No. 4 seed in the second round of the Division VI, Region 23 playoffs.
They then closed the season with wins over South Charleston Southeastern (21-20 on Oct. 24) and Zanesville Rosecrans (52-14 on Nov. 5).
“It’s interesting because (coach Jeff) Hartings is always great about taking all the adversity and turning it around into more motivation,” Anderson said. “Even for us to have guys being gone having to quarantine, it turned into one of the (most fun) seasons I’ve had. I’m so proud of this season even though we didn’t make it as far as we wanted to (in the postseason).”
Anderson missed three games with an elbow injury but finished with 707 yards and 10 touchdowns on 84 rushes as well as adding one scoring reception.
The only other seniors were two-way linemen Jeb Burford, Chase Fourman and Zach Hoheisel.
Fourman finished with 55 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, and Hoheisel had 48 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
“We had four very good seniors who were big guys in our program for four years and I think that’s a reflection of where our program is going,” Hartings said. “We do have a young team and really I think injuries probably played a big part in our inability, in my opinion, to improve and progress the way we expected to and hoped to as coaches. While we finished with a victory, the playoff loss was indicative of the injuries where we had to play guys in different positions.”
Hartings handed the reins of the offense to freshman quarterback Hobie Raikes and he completed 98 of 152 passes for 1,566 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Juniors Aaron Eisel (23 receptions for 232 yards, 2 TDs) and Jaiden Reynolds (30 receptions for 425 yards, 8 TDs) give the Warriors two strong wide receivers eligible to return, and sophomore Correll Amsbaugh (H-back) had 16 receptions for 379 yards and two scores.
On defense, junior Tyler White (LB/RB) and sophomore Joshua Carrel (LB/OL) led the team with 86 and 77 tackles, respectively. White also had 8.5 tackles for loss.
Junior Daelon Johnston was expected to be at tight end and linebacker but missed the season with an injury.
Sophomore Jordan Gray (WR/DB) also battled injuries.
Freshman Dax Zartman (LB/RB) made 48 tackles. Other key contributors on defense were juniors Dauda Diakite (LB/TE) and Caden Leidich (DB/WR) and sophomore Cayden Lassiter (DB/WR).
Lassiter also served as the backup quarterback.
Junior Adam Dunson (WR) and sophomore Ethan Albert (RB) are others eligible to return.
“I’m very pleased with how our kids are building a culture within our program,” Hartings said. “They come to work every single day and are learning to focus and get better every single day. The most important thing they do is give relentless effort.”
•Record: 7-2 overall
•MSL-Cardinal standings: Berne Union (5-0), Worthington Christian (5-1), Grove City Christian (4-1), Fisher Catholic (3-3), Fairfield Christian (2-4), Corning Miller (1-5), Zanesville Rosecrans (0-6)
•Seniors lost: Braden Anderson, Jeb Burford, Chase Fourman and Zach Hoheisel
•Key returnees: Correll Amsbaugh, Joshua Carrell, Aaron Eisel, Daelon Johnston, Cayden Lassiter, Hobie Raikes, Jaiden Reynolds, Tyler White and Dax Zartman
•Postseason: Lost to Lucasville Valley 27-21 in second round of Division VI, Region 23 playoffs