Cruisers ready to kick off the season

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Madison Cruiser varsity football linemen hit the blocking sled during a practice session on Aug. 1 in Cruiser Stadium.

The Groveport Madison football team faces a strong schedule this season, but the Cruisers feel they are up to the task.

“Every week is a challenge with our schedule for us,” said Groveport Madison Cruiser Varsity Head Football Coach Mitchell Westcamp. “I love that we have a tough schedule because it brings out the best in the players and you should always want to play the best.”

He said the season opener against Canal Winchester is always a tough game.

Cruiser quarterbacks warming up their passing arms at practice.

“It’s a rivalry game and it will always be a tough one no matter how each team is that season,” said Westcamp. “Gahanna is a team that brings back some really good players and can create matchups that will give anyone trouble. We play Upper Arlington week five this season as an Ohio Capital Conference crossover game and they are coming off a successful season where they have a really good group of young guys. If you look at our games within the OCC Buckeye Division, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg, and Lancaster are always a challenge because they are always well coached and those kids play tough every year.”

Cruiser linemen square off during a blocking drill.

Westcamp said the Cruisers will still run their traditional Wing-T offense under center and out of the shotgun.

“We anticipate we could go out of the shotgun more than we have traditionally gone in the past couple of seasons,” said Westcamp. “Defensively we run a 4-2-5 defense and it really fits our kids’ skill set. We have some guys who can play in the box and in coverage which can create some matchups in our favor. We have a really strong core group of young guys that will play up front defensively.”

He said the team is young this season with 70 of the team’s 85 players being juniors and sophomores.

Some top players to watch this season:

The punt team works to protect the punter while the punt return team strives to block the punt during a recent practice session.

•Mike Robinson, #21, senior RB/LB/SS – “Mike can do it all and I believe he is one of the best players in central Ohio this year,” said Westcamp. “He is going to be the focal point for us offensively. He is a violent runner that possesses the speed to outrun a lot of guys at this level. He was also second on the team in tackles last season.”

•Jalen Joyce, #53, sophomore OL/DL – “Jalen was second team OCC last season as a sophomore,” said Westcamp. “He started at guard for us week two and never looked back. He eventually became a two way starter for us as a freshman. Jalen’s maturity is beyond what a freshman should be. He plays the game fiercely and loves the physicality of the game.”

•Jace Nincehelser, #2, junior SS/WR – “Jace led the team in tackles last season and was first team OCC as a sophomore,” said Westcamp. “You won’t find a kid who works harder or in better shape than Jace. He does an unbelievable job defensively for us.”

•Cameron Spencer, #60, senior OL/DL – “Cameron is a returning starter at right tackle for us and earned second team OCC last year playing both sides of the ball,” said Westcamp.

But back to the Groveport Madison vs. Canal Winchester rivalry game to open the season on Aug. 19 at Groveport Madison’s Cruiser Stadium at 7 p.m.

“I love that we have the game week one,” said Westcamp. “Whoever hosts the game gets a really good gate, it’s great for the community and it’s always nice when you don’t have to travel far to play a game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they don’t like us and we don’t like them. I anticipate this being our most physical game this season because I know both teams will be prepared to get each other’s best the entire game. Past and current records mean nothing in games like these, the only thing that matters is the game that’s being played at the moment. It will be an energetic atmosphere that night because the energy from both crowds and student sections will be contagious for both teams.”

The 2022 Cruiser varsity football schedule:
7 p.m. Aug. 19………………Canal Winchester
7 p.m. Aug. 26……………………… Gahanna
7 p.m. Sept. 2………..Worthington Kilbourne
7 p.m. Sept. 9…………………………….Westland
7 p.m. Sept. 16…………….at Upper Arlington
7 p.m. Sept. 23……………………Reynoldsburg
7 p.m. Sept. 30…………………… Lancaster
7 p.m. Oct. 7…………….Pickerington Central
7 p.m. Oct. 14……………………………at Newark
7 p.m. Oct. 21…………………Central Crossing

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