It was another memorable year for Suburbanite-area high school sports teams.

It was another memorable year for Suburbanite-area high school sports teams. Multiple state tournament and title game appearances, dramatic wins, league titles and other great moments marked a year in which two schools, Green and Lake Center Christian, joined new leagues. Along the way, dozens of athletes made their mark and wrote their names in the record books. Here's part one of our look back at all that went on over the course of this past season.

AUGUST

The arrival of Green in the Federal League was a big topic in area high school sports and the fall was the best of the three seasons for the Bulldogs in their new home. The boys soccer team tore into the season with gusto, start off what would become an historic year with no losses in August or September.

The season began inauspiciously on the gridiron, where playoff-bound Stow topped Green 48-21 in both teams’ opener. Disappointment was a common theme in Week 1, with Coventry dropping a heartbreaker, 27-25 to Canton South. Springfield lost to Ellet by the same score as Green fell, with Manchester losing by a similar margin to Hillsdale.

Green’s girls golf team fired out of the gate strong, setting the stage for an historic run at the end of the season.

SEPTEMBER

Coventry senior Tucker Pearce won the Dick Malloy 3K Invitational in a time of 10:17, giving the Comets a solid beginning to a campaign that ended with a state meet appearance. Zach Hillman found the back of the net three times and added an assist for Green boys soccer in a 5-0 win over Nordonia as the Bulldogs continued to roll.

Senior Rachel Bindreiter was a driving force as Green girls tennis began the season 4-0, helping her team with a win in second doubles.

On the pitch, Manchester’s Morgan Starcher had a hat trick as the Panthers opened their season with a win over Louisville. Mogadore won its second straight game to start the high school football season, pounding Gilmour Academy 41-17 behind a balanced offensive attack.

Justin Khamvongsouk scored two goals and added an assist as Coventry bested Canton South 3-1 in boys soccer action. On the cross country course, Manchester junior Ian McCartt led his team in all of its meets through the first half of the month and posted his new personal best in the process. 

Several area teams started to rebound from slow starts on the gridiron, with Coventry scoring consecutive wins over Cloverleaf and Field to turn its season around, with the Field win saved by a touchdown-preventing tackle by defensive back Nate Skaggs following a long run down the field to catch a field receiver.

Springfield generated momentum with back-to-back wins over East and Kenmore, winning by a combined margin of 75-24.

Senior keeper Haleigh Seman had 18 saves in Green’s 1-0 loss to Hoban, while Coventry’s Zoe Sheppard notched 11 saves in the Comets’ loss to the Knights. Stewart Schmidt won the Dave Clegg Invitational cross country meet, helping Green to a fourth-place finish as a team.

Joey Zavarelli and Scott Twiddy recorded goals for Lake Center Christian as the Tigers rose to 3-0-0 in Portage Trail Conference play with a 2-0 win over Garrettsville.

The combined efforts of Joe Zwick and Conner Delahanty, finishing first and second, allowed Lake to win the team title at the Ashley White-Stumpf Invitational cross country meet at Marlington.

OCTOBER 

Springfield cross country hosted its first-ever cross country invitational, the Frola Frolic 5K. The meet, which included runners from the district’s youth running program alongside middle and high school races, was named in honor of former Springfield High School principal Cynthia Frola, who was on hand for the event.

After an 0-2 start to Federal League play, Lake's football team rebounded by toppling Hoover and upsetting league leader Perry in consecutive weeks, bottling up the Panthers’ wishbone attack in a 14-10 win. Manchester turned its season in the right direction behind a challenge from its seniors, who demanded that their team find a way to overcome its 0-3 start. Three straight wins to kick off the league season followed as the Panthers rose to the top of the PAC-7 standings.

In the Portage Trail Conference boys golf tournament, freshman Adam White placed fifth overall and earned second team All-PTC honors as his team ranked fourth in the field. The links were likewise kind to Manchester junior Danny Grizer, who fired a 77 to rank fourth among 96 golfers at the State Farm Invitational.

Green boys soccer improved to 13-0-1 and achieved the fifth spot in the Associated Press Division I state poll, the Bulldogs’ highest ranking ever. Coventry reshuffled its pieces on the defensive side of the football, adding more muscle up front and in the process, winning three of its final four games behind an improved run defense to finish second in the PTC Metro.

James Williams broke away from the pack late at the Columbiana Clipper Invitational, helping Springfield to a second-place team finish with his individual win and prompting athletic director Kevin Vaughn to call it “the most dominating performance I’ve seen” from a Springfield cross country runner during his tenure. Lake Center Christian got its own dominant effort from freshman Eliz Slabaugh, who finished 11th at the Tuslaw Invitational.

Haley Akers helped Coventry to a 9-8 record on the volleyball court, piling up 228 kills and 49 blocks as the Comets broke above the .500 mark. Manchester senior goalkeeper Joey Daniels had eight saves to keep the Panthers in the game in a 2-0 loss to CVCA.

Maria Lovell and Lillie McCortney each scored a goal as Green claimed a 2-1 win over Kent Roosevelt in nonleague girls soccer action. In girls tennis action, twins Maria and Anne Zivick qualified for the state tennis tournament in doubles action, bouncing back from a loss in the semifinals to advance. Green girls golf capped a Federal league championship season by finishing second in the Division I state tournament, marking the best seasonn in program history. The boys team likewise finished first in the league and freshman Cade Breitenstine was named the league’s player of the year.

NOVEMBER 

November is playoff time in high school football and for the 16th year in a row, Mogadore was a part of the postseason party. The Wildcats rolled to the Division VII state championship game, outscoring their November playoff foes by a combined margin of 161-48, including a 63-20 rout of Jackson-Milton in their playoff opener.

Lake also squeaked into the postseason despite a Week 10 loss to Green, but suffered a heartbreaking 15-14 loss to Worthington Kilbourne in a road playoff contest.

Coventry boys cross country made it to the state meet for the first time, claiming the fourth and final qualifying spot at the Malone Division II district meet. Seniors Tucker Pearce and Evan Davenport led the way as the Comets celebrated their accomplishment in memorable fashion.

Manchester girls soccer reached the district final once more, but fell 2-1 to Chippewa in a gut-wrenching loss that swung on a few key moments. A 13-5-1 record was the end result for the Panthers after a strong run that included a 15-0 combined margin in their first two tournament games.

Senior quarterback Jaret Skaggs was named Portage Trail Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for a school-record 30 touchdowns on the season.

Slabaugh reached the cross country regional meet for Lake Center Christian, becoming one of just a few freshmen to do so, while Schmidt earned a second straight state meet trip for Green. Both runners advanced on after their teams were eliminated, competing solo and turning in impressive efforts.

Seman ended her four-year run between the pipes for Green by tying the program’s career shutouts record, finishing with 27 clean sheets to tie former Green standout and current Green High School staff member Stacy Messner. Her peers on the boys soccer team made it all the way to the regional semifinals, finishing 19-1-1 after a loss to parochial power St. Ignatius. 

DECEMBER

The first-ever state championship game appearance in Division VII for Mogadore ended in defeat as the Wildcats fell 33-14 to Fort Recovery at Ohio Stadium. Jarad Dunn’s early touchdown catch was one of the few highlights on the day for the Wildcats.

Manchester senior track standout Grier Cowles committed to run for Walsh University, while senior softball star Tatum Christy made her official commitment to Youngstown State. Former Green teammates Andrew Pratt and Dylan Brumbaugh played together one final time, helping the Akron Zips win the first bowl game in program history, a 23-21 win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Pratt finished with a season high 9 catches for 94 yards.

Green boys basketball began its first season in the Federal League with a win over GlenOak, but also suffered a tough home loss to Jackson in a game that showed the high level of play in their new league home. Coventry opened defense of its first Portage Trail Conference boys basketball title in nearly 60 years as senior center Bryce Hargrove scored his 1,000th career point in a win over North.

Green senior girls basketball player Madison Jackson committed to play at Tiffin as she began her final season playing for the Bulldogs. Senior guard Karli Morisak averaged 9.0 points, 8.0 assists, 5.0 steals and 5.0 rebounds in the Comets first two league games against Cloverleaf and Field.

Alec Bailey, Jimmy Bowen, Joey Bowen and Brayden Kirk were among the winners for Manchester as the Panthers battled Division II foe Lake in a close basketball game the Blue Streaks won by a score of 40-36. On the lanes, Springfield opened defense of its PTC boys bowling title with a 2,377-2,125 win over Garrettsville. Green senior Tom Lowery rolled his first perfect game during an early season match, giving the Bulldogs a shot in the arm to get their season going.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB