Toby Hamel

Sophomore Nick Miller, junior Center Logan Gardner and others set up on the offensive line.

Kanyae Lees

The Cardinals clinched their first winning season since 1999 with their upset victory over the Marysville Monarchs on Friday, October 7. They haven’t won a playoff game since they defeated Toledo Whitmer on November 15, 1986. However, this season remains promising.

Senior Captain Connor Smith said that one of the biggest changes is in the mentality the team shares. “Everyone wants to show up and be there for their teammates,” said Smith.
Senior wide receiver Javon Hern says that leaders are more cutthroat than those before. Anybody who doesn’t “want to be here and get better within the culture” is told to go home.

One of the biggest changes according to Hern is the mentality. The team realized they could hang with anybody, which led them to “play better, play harder, not give up, play to the fourth quarter, know that it’s not over even if we’re down,”. Confidence is also key. Smith says that in previous years, there was a lack of “leadership and confidence in each other”. Head Coach Mike Picetti says that the team captains read a book called “A Team Captains Leadership Manual”, which lead them to take “charge on building that chemistry”

The Cardinals participated in a summer camp run by the Ohio National Guard, focusing on improving teamwork and leadership. Both players and the coaches agree that the offseason is where they did the most work. Hern says the offseason is “where games are won”. Picetti agrees, adding that “this program isn’t built overnight”.

Three players have been recognized as the Columbus Dispatch Player of the Week: Senior Captains Will Cooper and Joey Zalewski won along with junior Colin Scalise. While this is a big accomplishment for the players and a morale boost for the team, Hern says that at the end of the day, “it’s all about the team”.

Senior leaders have made sure to not only focus on the success of this season but prepare the team for success in the future. Smith said that it has been a focus to instill a sense of leadership and confidence into the younger players. The cultural shift is a big change, said Smith. Seniors are trying to lead by example. Everyone wants to show up and be there for their teammates. Hern says it’s important for younger players to “ know that you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the brothers that wear the same uniform as you”.

The Cardinals are on a two-game losing streak, falling to Hilliard Darby 31-7 and losing last week to Olentangy Berlin, 31-0. Picetti says “a lot of it comes down to execution. We need to execute better. We haven’t executed very well the last two weeks”. He adds that even though “we’re a little banged up”, if they execute the game plan, he believes they can beat anybody.

The Cardinals face Hilliard Bradley on Friday, October 28th in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs. Players are trying to continue this record-setting season. Hern says the team “knows how much is on the line each game”.