Team Twelve was the most successful football team in Pioneer History, going 9-1 in the regular season. That tied their previous best regular season record of 9-1 set by Team 10 in 2017. But during this 9-1 regular season, the Pioneers went undefeated in the OCC and won the OCC Buckeye division outright. They beat division rivals Olentangy and Powell for the first time ever in the same season. They swept the Westerville schools as well. The team’s only loss was to Pickerington North in week three of the regular season. The Pioneers scored a total of 296 points this season, while allowing only 180.
Week One the Pioneers traveled to Worthington Kilbourne to play the Wolves. Senior Quarterback Spencer Hawkins threw for 179 yards and two passing touchdowns to Sam Wyne. One going for 85 yards, the other a 50/50 ball where Wyne ripped the ball away from the defender in the air and brought it to his chest in the back corner of the endzone. The defense allowed only one touchdown, and Junior Joey Guagenti had a blocked field goal. The Pioneers won 16-6.
Week Two the Pioneers had their home opener against Hilliard Bradley. Jake Vanchieri the senior running back led the charge with a touchdown and the team ran for 280 yards total. Spencer Hawkins tossed one touchdown as well. The game was won by Sophomore Kicker Jack Behre who kicked the game winning field goal to give the Pioneers a 17-14 lead. That would end up being the final score.
Week Three was Military Appreciation Night and the Pioneers had the Panthers of Pickerington North coming to Lewis Center. The Pioneers lost 38-17. All 17 of their points came in the second quarter. Spencer Hawkins scrambled to a 50 yard touchdown run during the game. Jack Sawyer an Ohio State commit for football as a junior, played quarterback for North that night. It was an unexpected change that burned the Pioneer defense in the end.
Week Four the Pioneers travelled to Big Walnut, it was the longest game of the season with over 2 and a half hours of weather delays. Hawkins had three total touchdowns. One rushing and two through the air. Junior Luke Applegate ran in a score as well. Sam Wyne caught both touchdown passes. Jack Behre was 4/4 on PATs, and 2/2 on Field Goals. The Pioneers won 34-3.
Week 5 was Homecoming against Westland. The theme was beach night, and the Pioneers had some fun in the sun. Winning 52-0. The defense captured a safety, and a shutout. Spencer Hawkins found new targets in the endzone. Kaden Conzack and Zane Lattig caught their first touchdowns of the year.
Week 6 was the beginning of OCC play. Westerville North came to the LC with a Sophomore Quarterback. The Pioneers took advantage against the young Quarterback and only allowed 7 points. Spencer Hawkins had 2 touchdown tosses, one to Nate Miller, and the other to Jack Fenton. Jake Vanchieri ran for 107 yards for 2 touchdowns himself. Jack Behre was 3/4 on PATs and 2/3 on FGs. The Pioneers won 30-7.
Week 7 was rivalry week. Orange went to Olentangy to try and win two straight at Olentangy. They did just that. Shutting down the Braves offense and overpowering the Braves defense. Joey Guagenti and Reece Dunham both had interceptions for the Pioneer defense. Spencer Hawkins threw a touchdown pass to Sam Wyne and ran the ball into the endzone once. Jake Vanchieri and Luke Applegate both had touchdowns as well. Jack Behre was 4/4 on PATs. The Pioneers won the game 28-14.
Week 8 was a playoff like game. Undefeated Westerville Central came to 7-1 Olentangy Orange. Central coming off a win in Powell and Orange coming off a win at Tangy. It was the Thursday Night Lights game of the week. It was a defensive contest where the Pioneers came out on top in the closing seconds of the game. On a fourth down inside the 20, the Warhawk offense had a chance to score, but Colin McNay came and batted the ball down in just enough time to give the Pioneers the win. Spencer Hawkins threw for 154 yards and a touchdown. Jake Vanchieri ran the ball 22 times for 94 yards. He had a receiving and rushing touchdown. Senior Linebacker Zach Hill had 12 tackles. The final score was 14-6.
Week 9 was another playoff like game.The Olentangy River Rivalry, Olentangy Liberty at Olentangy Orange who were looking to sweep the Olentangy schools after beating Tangy two weeks prior. The Pioneers could do that with a win over Powell. In another low scoring defensive battle the Pioneer defense played really well. Allowing points on only the first drive of the game, then pitching a shutout through the end of the night. Spencer Hawkins had 152 passing yards and a touchdown pass. It was the only Pioneer touchdown on the night. Jack Behre kicked the game winning field goal in the second quarter. The Pioneers and Patriots both scored nothing in the second half of the game. The final score was 10-7. The Pioneers clinched at least a share of the OCC title with the win.
Week 10, the final week of the regular season. Orange went to Westerville South. The Pioneers routed the Wildcats, Spencer Hawkins had arguably his best game ever. He had 218 passing yards and 2 touchdown passes. He also ran the ball into the endzone twice. Jake Vanchieri had 151 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Jack Behre was 4/4 on PATs. On the defensive side of the ball, Reece Dunham, Eli Payne, and Dylan Dempsey all had interceptions. The Pioneers won the OCC Buckeye Out RIght with a 42-24 victory. They also swept the other Olentangy Schools for the first time ever.
Week 11, the first week of the Playoffs in Division 1 region 3 where the Olentangy Orange Pioneers were the number 3 seed, and had a home playoff game. They drew Pickerington North as their opponent. The Only team that had beaten them in the regular season. This time the script was completely flipped. The Pioneer offense was rolling from the start. Spencer Hawkins went 11/19, 181 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Jake Vanchieri ran the ball 24 times for 187 yards and 2 fourth quarter touchdowns. Jack Behre was 3/4 on field goals, and 3/3 on PATs, Orange had a failed two point conversion. Reece Dunham had another interception. The Pioneers won their first ever Division 1 playoff game, and first playoff game in 10 years. The Final score was 36-17.
Week 12, the Pioneers went to a neutral site game at Upper Arlington high school against Pickerington Central. Pickerington Central was the number 2 seed in the region. The Pioneers got off to a bad start, and it only got worse. On the first play from scrimmage, Hawkins was picked off and the Tiger defense returned it to the endzone for a pick-six. The Pioneers finished the night with their worst offensive game of the season. Hawkins finished the game 1/18 for 13 yards and 2 interceptions. Luke Applegate ran the ball 16 times for 23 yards. Henry Groce ran the ball nine times for 34 yards. The Pioneers were without Jake Vanchieri due to a concussion. Senior Linebacker Zach Hill finished the night with 14 tackles. The Pioneers lost 44-0.
The 2019 Orange Pioneers football team won many individual and team awards throughout the season. Head Coach Zebb Schroeder was the OCC Buckeye Coach of the Year. Senior Quarterback Spencer Hawkins was the Ernie Godfrey award winner for the OCC Buckeye division. Senior Linebacker Zach Hill wan OCC Buckeye Player of the Year. Sophomore Place Kicker Jack Behre was the OCC Buckeye Kicker of the year. Senior Punter Jack Fenton was OCC Buckeye Player of the year. The team’s success was all over the field and evident week in and week out.
Senior Linebacker Jack Almond said this regarding Team Twelve’s success in 2019. “It felt really good to feel all the work pay off this year. I couldn’t think of a better group of guys to make history with.” Jack Almond played all four years of high school as a member of the Orange Football program. Zane Lattig a star wide out for the Pioneers this season made his commitment to the University of Charleston West Virginia [to play baseball] leading up to the final game. He had a successful season as well. His best on the Gridiron “It was a great experience. Growing up in this program with beating one and not the other [either Oleantangy or Liberty] was frustrating so finally being able to pull it off was amazing. Plus with all the preseason talk about us not going to be good we as a whole team wanted to prove them wrong and show them that we are good and we played very well in the games against our rivals.” The Special teams was also very special this year. Led by Senior Punter Jack Fenton who scored his first touchdown ever this year. “The best part was definitely beating both our sister schools and winning occ outright champs and winning a playoff game”, on his first score “I saw the lane down the right side and I took it. It was really fun.” Senior linebacker Zach Hill who has Division 1 offers was arguably the best Pioneer on the field when he was out there. “For me it was just really awesome to be part of a record breaking season for our program. The winning was nice, but the relationships I made with the people here are so special. This team truly loved each other and I think that’s what helped us win football games.” In the words of Coach Schroeder he’s the quarterback of the defense.
Team Twelve will forever be remembered as “The First” The first team in Orange history to Win the OCC Buckeye, the first team to beat Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty in the same year. The first team to win a Division 1 playoff game, and the first team to make it to Week 13.