By Rick Palsgrove
The Canal Winchester Indians football team powered its way through
opponents to win a share of the 2019 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division football championship.
The Indians, Groveport Madison, and New Albany shared the championship, all with 4-1 league records. Canal Winchester finished 9-2 overall. The Indians also won the OCC Capital title in 2018.
The Indians’ season ended Nov. 8 in the Division 2 Regional Quarterfinal state playoffs with a 24-18 loss to the Harrison Wildcats (10-1) on Nov. 8 at Harrison.
Canal Winchester Head Coach Josh Stratton said Harrison was a tough opponent.
“They (Harrison) are very aggressive on defense,” said Stratton.
Stratton said the strength of this year’s Indians team was experience.
“We had a lot of returning lettermen from last year’s team,” said Stratton.
Indians quarterback Jack Beeler and running back Stephan Byrd both had stellar seasons this year.
“Jack improved dramatically from last year,” said Stratton. “His vision and arm strength have really shown up when we needed it. Stephan is just getting started. This is just the tip of the iceberg for him. It’s a lot of fun watching him improve each week, and he’s only 15 years old!”
Byrd was named All-OCC first team two years in a row, All-District in 2018, and All-State Honorable Mention in 2018 as a freshman.
“He was the only freshman to do so in Division 2,” said Stratton of Byrd.
Through 10 games in the regular season this year, Byrd had 1,578 total yards (1,372 rushing, 206 receiving) and a total of 24 touchdowns. Stratton said Byrd is being recruited by Mid-American Conference schools, Pittsburgh, University of Cincinnati, and Ohio State.
Beeler, through 10 games of the regular season, had thrown for 1,363 yards and 15 touchdowns with only five interceptions.
Other notable players on this year’s team included linebacker Blaine Riley; defensive end Hunter Allen; wide receive, defensive back, punter, kick returner, running back Tyler Toledo; nose guard Michael Wilson; kicker, punt returner and wide receiver Avery Musick; and free safety Logan Beckwith;
Stratton said a highlight of the season was, “Finally winning a week one game.”
He said winning the OCC Capital crown means a lot to the team and its supporters.
“It’s one of our goals and by doing so we gave ourselves a chance to make the playoffs because to do so you have to beat some good teams,” said Stratton.
The 2019 Canal Winchester Indians football results: CW 35 Thomas Worthington 17; CW 24 Olentangy Berlin 21; CW 66 Teays Valley 7; CW 24 Westerville North 7; CW 38 Grove City 7; CW 41 New Albany 27; CW 0 Groveport Madison 28; CW 48 Franklin Heights 6; CW 49 Newark 0; CW 28 Big Walnut 13. Division 2 Regional Quarterfinals: CW 18 Harrison 24.