By JARROD ULREY, THISWEEKSPORTS.COM
In the opening week of MSL-Cardinal Division play last season, the Harvest Preparatory School football team trailed by three points at halftime but went on to beat Worthington Christian 40-30 on its way to a third consecutive perfect league record.
The past three seasons, there was only one other league game that Harvest Prep didn’t win by at least 19 points.
“I think Worthington Christian is going to be real good,” Harvest Prep coach Milan Smith said. “We’re (18-0) in the league since I’ve been here and we’re actually looking forward to the league being more competitive.”
Harvest Prep begins league play Friday, Sept. 15, at home against Worthington Christian with a 2-1 record after losing to Mifflin 55-48 on Sept. 8.
Worthington Christian lost to New Philadelphia Tuscarawas Central Catholic 13-10 on Sept. 8 and is 0-3 heading into the matchup.
In Harvest Prep’s loss to Mifflin, running back Daniel Bangura rushed for 442 yards and four touchdowns to bring his rushing total for the season to 1,082 yards. A 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior who has a scholarship offer from Kent State, Bangura already has scored 13 touchdowns.
Harvest Prep also has a Wisconsin commit in Isaiah Mullens, a 6-6, 278-pound senior who plays tight end and on the defensive line and three offensive linemen who weigh more than 300 pounds.
″(Bangura’s a) very good running back, that’s for sure,” Worthington Christian coach Jeff Hartings said. “They’ve always got great speed, great athletes on defense. That’s going to be a great challenge for us, (but) we’re focusing on ourselves.”
Worthington Christian lost its first two games by a combined 65 points before falling just short against Tuscarawas Central Catholic in a game it led 10-6 after three quarters.
Junior Michael Hartings, who starts at running back and linebacker, rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown and had two interceptions, three tackles, and a forced fumble.
Senior linebacker Joe Siefert had seven tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss and senior Galen Cox also played a key role at linebacker, according to coach Hartings.
“It was a close game,” coach Hartings said. “In general, we’re just not executing very well, but our effort is great, and we can’t ask for anything more than that.
“We’ve had a lot of challenges with injuries, but those things are a part of a football team, and you’ve got to try to overcome them. I think you always just want to focus on the positives. The fact that some young guys are stepping up and improving, that’s all you can ask for. I think eventually you’ll see that on the scoreboard.”