Cruisers ready to tackle tough schedule


By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Cruisers head onto the field at a game at Cruiser Stadium last season.

The Groveport Madison Cruiser varsity football team is facing a tough schedule this year, but Coach Mitchell Westcamp said the squad is up to the task.

The Cruisers compete in the Ohio Capital Conference’s Buckeye Division.

“Our schedule is always competitive,” said Westcamp. “We play a tough league schedule and have some tough non-league games. The toughest of those is Gahanna, which won Region 3 last year and has gotten in quite a few transfers this season. They return some guys offensively who are going to give central Ohio fits all fall and some transfers in defensively who will fill the holes they lost last season.”

He said the game against Upper Arlington will also be a tough match up.

“They are always coached up well and those kids play hard every week,” said Westcamp. “They are consistently one of the best teams in our region and we played them well last year, but unfortunately came out on the wrong end losing 14-13.”

Westcamp said the rivalry game against Canal Winchester is always a big game.

“It’s a rivalry game week one so the kids on both sides are up and ready to play,” said Westcamp. “It doesn’t matter if either team is good, it’s always a great game because of the rivalry. We know when we line up week one we know that we are going to face a tough, well coached team.”

Pickerington Central is always strong.

“They are constantly playing in the regional championship game and just seem to reload,” said Westcamp. “They have some high end transfers in this season who will fill some holes they were left to replace from last season. They have a really good group of 2025 and 2026 guys who we might not know yet, but we will by the end of the season. Even with a new head coach, I don’t look for much to change for the Tigers. They have a core group of their staff returning and I don’t see them missing a beat.”

He said the schedule does not get easier as the Cruisers will also face Reynoldsburg, Lancaster, and Central Crossing.

“Reynoldsburg is in their second season with Coach Philmore and he’s doing a good job and I look for him to turn the corner this season,” said Westcamp. “They are a tough matchup with their speed and physicality.”

He said Lancaster is coached as well as any team in central Ohio.

“Coach Schoonover has done a good job of putting together a high quality staff at Lancaster and I have a lot of respect for their coaches,” said Westcamp. “That’s a fun and exciting game for us to play and coach because of how well we know each other.”

He said Central Crossing fits the same mold of a tough team with some really good coaches leading them.

Offensively, Westcamp said the Cruisers will still run the traditional Wing-T.

“We have been incorporating more of the Wing-T out of the gun and some empty sets offensively,” said Westcamp. “It comes down to quarterback play and if we feel the kid at that position can throw the ball around, we will spread the ball out. We also have six kids who can run the ball at any time and the Wing-T incorporates three running backs and can play to our strengths.”

He said defensively the team will run a base 4-2-5 defense “because it fits our kids.”

The Cruisers ended last season ranked ninth defensively in Division 1 and have much of that defense returning this season.

“Our strength is our defense,” said Westcamp. “We have seven guys returning defensively who started last season and quite a few other guys who rotated or saw time defensively last season. These guys who are returning will be a three year starter or junior who started as sophomores, so we have an experienced group. We put our emphasis on defense and building that unit the best we possibly can because we feel it will always keep us in games and give us a chance to win the game if the defense plays well.”

Offensively the team returns all but one of its running backs and receivers and Westcamp said it is the deepest group of players the Cruisers have had in years at that position. He said the team also has a deep group of players on the offensive line.

According to Westcamp, some top players to watch this season are:

•Jace Nincehelser, SS/RB senior – Second team all state last year. He lead the team in tackles the past two seasons. He has not played offense yet, but coaches look to incorporate him offensively this season.

•Michael Shumate, LB senior – Second team all league linebacker from last season.

•Luke Stewart, LB senior – four year letter winner and will be a three year starter.

•Elijah Simmons, RB senior – Will see a larger role in the offense this season, averaged 7.04 yards per carry last season.

•Lucas Reed, RB senior – Will also see a larger role in the offense this season, averaged 6.39 yards per carry last season and has good hands out of the backfield.

•Alijah Averett, OL/DL senior – Returning starter at guard last season. Looks to play on both sides of the ball this season.

•Clay Patton, TE/DE senior – First year football player who has played basketball .

•Will Morgan, Kicker senior – Three year starter at kicker, also plays soccer.

•Jalen Joyce, OL/DL junior – First team all league and second team All District. He started 21 out of 22 games as a freshman and sophomore.

•Keishaun Calhoun, TE/DE junior – First team all league and special mention All District. Started every game as a sophomore in the defensive line and holds multiple Division 1 offers.

•Raishad King, FB junior – Second team all league, top returning back from last season, led the team in rushing as a sophomore with 8.10 yards per carry.

•Lavon Edwards, OL/DL junior – Started all 11 games last year at center.

•Jeremiah Moore, WR junior – top returning receiver, also plays basketball.

•Tyreke Ruffin, WR/CB sophomore – Started two games last year at CB. Also starting point guard on the basketball team.

•Jackson Stauffer, OL sophomore – One of the top incoming sophomore lineman out of a deep sophomore class of lineman. Will compete to start at left tackle.


Fri Aug 18 6:00 PM @ Canal Winchester

Fri Aug 25 7:00 PM vs Gahanna Lincoln High School

Fri Sep 1 7:00 PM @ Worthington Kilbourne High School

Fri Sep 8 7:00 PM @ Westland High School

Fri Sep 15 7:00 PM vs Upper Arlington High School

Fri Sep 22 7:00 PM @ Reynoldsburg High School

Fri Sep 29 7:00 PM vs Lancaster High School

Fri Oct 6 7:00 PM @ Pickerington High School Central

Fri Oct 13 7:00 PM vs Newark High School

Fri Oct 20 7:00 PM @ Central Crossing High School

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