Marion, Oak Hill Have Lofty Goals

Posted on September 2, 2010 in Fall Sports, News
Both Teams Seek Postseason Titles

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010 1:07 AM EDT
Chuck Landis and Justin Kenny

Oak Hill has set its sights on a second sectional championship, while Marion aims to win its second regional title this fall.

Since both teams compete in the same Kokomo Sectional, someone will be disappointed.

The Giants have won a sectional title the past four years, only to be disappointed in the regional round. Last year, they lost 2-1 to eventual regional champion Warsaw in the opening round.

Top two goal scorers JaCoby Smith and Cortland Weatherspoon are among 11 returning lettermen, and Giants coach Jorge Berry believes his current team can become the first since 1997 to win the regional.

“Without question, our goal is to win the regional,” Berry said. “We want to get to the semistate. Our guys want to have their own little glory.”

Smith led the Giants with 24 goals and 12 assists, and Weatherspoon followed with 22 goals and 10 assists. With their athleticism and strength, Berry said both forwards are capable of playing collegiately at a Division I level.

Rittenhouse contributed nine goals and with Nivan Chowattukunnel provides scoring punch from midfield. Sweeper Nathanael Cramer transferred to Marion after Lakeview Christian eliminated its senior high school and has been a welcome addition to the defense.

Goalkeeper DavRon Williams was the main graduation loss, and replacement Riley Reese is injured and not expected back until Tuesday. Freshman Derek Harvey has filled in at goalie and helped the Giants to a 3-1 start.

After opening with a 5-2 loss at Fort Wayne Snider, the Giants have won three straight matches by a combined 21-0 score. Berry is concerned the Giants don’t get challenged often enough, but that is about to change.

Today, the Giants host No. 10-ranked Westfield, which features Eric Zazaleta, the top-ranked player in Indiana. The match starts a stretch where the Giants will get tested by Norwell, Hamilton Southeastern and Richmond.

“This month of September we will have nine matches, and it will give me a barometer of where we’re at,” Berry said. “I feel comfortable with where we’re at and we’re playing well, but we can play better.”

Oak Hill, despite an impressive 13-3-1 regular season a year ago, once again fell to Marion 5-1 in the Kokomo Sectional. As a result, the Golden Eagles have made some changes in an attempt to level the playing field.

Eagles coach Aaron Travis has changed the schedule at the end of the season in hopes of better preparing his team for sectional play.

“We added a few more difficult teams around the state that we think will show us if we are ready to face Marion in sectional play,” Travis said. “It’s way far in advance, but if we get the wins in games we should and win a few games at the end of the season, then we should have a good chance to go far in the postseason.”

Travis will have a majority of his team back and is capable of making another run at a double-digit win season.

Key graduation losses include midfielder Cody Reaves, who scored a state-best 23 assists and was fourth in the state with 73 points. The defense also loses a key player in Chase Messersmith. Promising sophomore Luke Lance left unexpectedly after accepting a scholarship to play at Shattuck St. Mary’s Academy (Minn.).

Among the returnees are defensemen Thomas Slaughter, Lucas Nieto and Bobby Hamill. Zach Gutierrez, a transfer from Lakeview Christian, will get considerable time on defense. Midfielders Austin Daugherty and Michael Daugherty and forward Jake Evans return and have been the primary scorers.

Goaltender Daimon Knee’s play will help determine the Eagles’ success this season.

“Daimon is going to be the source of strength for us,” Travis said. “He will have to work to keep the defense strong at all times.”

There are not many holes in the Oak Hill lineup with 12 letterwinners back, and some talented freshmen also are ready to contribute.

“For the most part, we have our lineup set depending on who is back from previous seasons,” Travis said. “We have been watching the younger players and newcomers over the summer to see where they can fit in to the field in case we run into injuries or any other setbacks.”

Leave a Comment