Battle of Hard Road: Scioto-Kilbourne rivalry highlighted by a first


Worthington Kilbourne ran past Dublin Scioto 30-0 last season in “The Battle of Hard Road”

Separated by about two miles in Northern Columbus, Dublin Scioto
will make the short trip to Worthington Kilbourne Friday for the 2009 version of the “Battle of Hard Road”.

But this season’s match up features something that has never happened in the 14-year history of the rivalry.

This Friday’s “Battle of Hard Road” describes more than the
proximity of Dublin Scioto and Worthington Kilbourne.

The young season has been hard for each team – both are

Separated by about two miles in Northern Columbus, Scioto
(0-2) will make the short trip down Hard Road to Kilbourne (0-1) for a 7:30 p.m.

But it has been bumpy playing on the road for the Irish
stumbling in Week 1 at Pickerington North 12-7 and again last week at Toledo
Central Catholic falling 30-16.

“I think the start to the season is probably disappointing
for all of us,” Scioto head coach Karl Johnson said. “But we’re optimistic about
what we need to do. We are going into this game against Kilbourne knowing that
we’ve got to finish out games.

“Getting your first win is huge for any team.”

It has not all been bad news for Scioto, though, as several
players have worked hard to turn the luck of the Scioto Irish around.

“We have had good performances by lots of guys but at the
same time we’ve had breakdowns by lots of guys,” said Johnson. “There are a lot
of guys that have made plays throughout but we’re just going to need to get a
good, consistent effort to finish each quarter.”

Running back Alex Gordon leads the way on offense and
tallied 97 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown last week against TCC.

“He is an example for everyone,” Johnson said. “It’s not the
size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. He isn’t real
big but he plays twice his size.”

Quarterback Charlie Suich was 11-of-19 passing for 146
yards and a touchdown last week and has been solid under center while Grant Pleasant has been the anchor on defense on the live.

Should Scioto get one in the win column this week, it would
be the first time the Irish have claimed the asphalt trophy that represents the
rivalry since 2006.

Kilbourne holds a 10-5 advantage in the series.

“As far as the rivalry goes, it’s a tradition that was started
when we opened and it has kept going since 1995,” Johnson said. “We’re way
behind in the competition so we need to step up our game and it needs to be
important to us.

“We need to find a way to get it done.”

Kilbourne head coach Vince Trombetti understands the
importance of the rivalry as well.

“Geographically the two schools are very close to each
other and it also brings a lot of excitement because a lot of the kids played
youth sports together,” he said. “So, our kids know their kids and their kids
know our kids and it becomes a battle of bragging rights.

“It is always a great game with us and Scioto. It is
usually a good game and I am hoping it is a lot of the same Friday.”

Kilbourne has had two weeks to prepare for Scioto after a
37-7 season-opening loss to Groveport-Madison.

“We made a lot of mistakes in our first game,” said
Trombetti. “I don’t want to take anything away from Groveport because they are a
very good football team but we made a lot of mistakes that put them in positions
to score afterwards.

“I think one of the good things that came out of it was we
didn’t quit. We were down 30-0 at halftime and came back and didn’t give up a
defensive touchdown. We did a much better job in the second half of doing the
things we are supposed to do.”

Nathan Sparks moved under center this season replacing
three-year starter Aaron Kincade and Sheldon Tillman and Tim Gerbert tote the
ball in the patented Kilbourne triple-option offense. Tillman tallied 70 yards
rushing in the season-opener.

“Offensively, when you’re running the option like we do,
you need to make sure you are getting the right reads,” said Trombetti. “There
were times (against Groveport-Madison) when we did that and there were times
when we didn’t do that and it is more about consistency more than anything

On defense, linebackers Tyler Johnson and Nick Porter with
defensive end Jason Cunningham lead the pack.

The Wolves had Grove City on the schedule for Week 2 but
the failed levy on Aug. 4 in the South-Western City School District eliminated
all sports for the Greyhounds athletic program until the levy is voted on again in November.

“We’ve had a little extra time (to practice) for this one,”
Trombetti said. “I feel bad for all those kids in South-Western Schools but it
has given us the opportunity to take our time and to focus and work on things
that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.

“It gives us the opportunity to get a couple extra
practices in. A lot of coaches will say you make the most improvement between
Week 1 and Week 2 but we’ll find out if that is between Week 1 and Week 2 or
Game 1 and Game 2.”

Said Johnson, “I think if (Kilbourne) had their choice,
they would have played a game to try and improve from Week 1. I feel like we’ve
had the extra week of preparation. They had an extra week to game plan for
us but they haven’t played somebody else. I don’t know how big of an advantage it is
for them if it is an advantage.”

With no game on the schedule lastFriday, Trombetti and his staff
took the opportunity to make the trip to Toledo to scout Scioto.

“They might be the best 0-2 team in the state right now,”
Trombetti said. “They have a lot of fight in them and they don’t give up.”

Scioto trailed 30-0 at halftime against TCC but battled back
to within two touchdowns.

“They were able to pound the ball right at Central Catholic
and they were successful with that,” said Trombetti. “With their size, they
really did a good job. That is a concern on our part because we’re not as big
upfront as we were last year.”

Johnson and the Irish know what to except from their
opponent as well.

“Upfront, their offense has good size on the line. They
play physically and they have run the same offense for many years so those kids
get what it is they are trying to do,” he said. “Defensively, they fly to the
football, their safeties are fast, downhill players that can tackle. They are
a good, solid football team.”

Friday’s game marks the first time the “Battle of Hard
Road” has featured both a winless Kilbourne and Scioto team but it doesn’t matter whether they are undefeated or 0-for-the-season once they take the field.

“A lot of times we’re coming into this game where we’re
both 2-0 but this is a little bit different because one of us is going to get
our first win,” Trombetti said. “If we can perform like we did last year,
hopefully we’ll be on the good end of the scoreboard.”

Added Johnson, “(Both teams being winless) adds a little
bit of urgency and intensity. I think both teams will be hungry to establish
control of the game. For us, all we can do is worry about tomorrow night and get
ready to play.”


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