ThisWeekSports Central Ohio Football Previews: Who, What, Where & When


ThisWeek Sports

A look at key Central Ohio Week 8 matchups and players


*Dublin Scioto at Hilliard Darby

In the battle for first place in the OCC-Cardinal Division, there is a
distinct difference in the way the Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Darby
high school football teams go about putting up points.

The no-huddle, hurry-up offense for the Irish, under the direction of
senior quarterback Evan DeMars, has kept defenses on their heels while
averaging 266.7 yards passing per game.

The Panthers’ rushing attack, led by senior quarterback Chase Longwell, is equally as potent in averaging 296.3 yards.

Scioto is averaging 39.4 points per game and Darby is scoring 38.7 per contest.

“We like to run the football, control the clock as much as possible
and limit how much their offense is out there on the field,” said Darby
coach John Santagata, whose team plays host to Scioto on Friday, Oct.
12. “They’re going to try and keep our offense off the field. They’ve
got a quarterback who has the ability to scramble and make a throw and
they back that up with a good running back in (Will) Houston.”

The matchup brings together two teams in the top five in the Division
I, Region 3 computer rankings; the top eight qualify for the playoffs.

Darby, at 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, is fourth in Region 3 and Scioto (6-1, 4-0) is fifth.

The Panthers last reached the postseason in 2010, when they lost to
Springfield 22-7 in a first-round game. The Irish last appeared in the
playoffs in 2005, when they were defeated by Louisville 28-23 in a
Division II, Region 7 semifinal.

“I think we’re a confident team right now that feels like the only
thing that can stop us right now is ourselves,” said Scioto receiver Tim
Shadoan, who has caught 51 passes for 640 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Darby is very good with a bunch of athletes, but…COMPLETE STORY

*DeSales at Watterson

Much like the personality both the DeSales and Watterson high school
football teams often embody, their annual matchup rarely is decided by
surprises or trick plays.

Instead, as Eagles coach Dan Bjelac sees it, it’s a matter of which team imposes its will on the other more successfully.

Watterson plays host to DeSales on Friday, Oct. 12, in the 57th matchup between the programs.

“We’ve played them so many times that they know what we’re going to
do and we know what they’re going to do,” Watterson senior wide receiver
and defensive back Michael Vlahakis said. “If something bad happens in
this game, you’ve got to respond because that always happens. I’ve been
watching these games since I was a little kid, and it’s all about
responding. There are always turnovers, but it’s the team that picks
themselves up that usually wins.”

The Eagles beat Ironton 42-8 on Oct. 5 and the Stallions defeated
Cincinnati Aiken 44-0 on Oct. 6 as each team improved to 4-3 overall.

A win by the Stallions would give them the CCL-Silver Division
championship since they also beat St. Charles 28-16 on Sept. 28, and
both teams are in the thick of the Division III, Region 10 playoff race.

DeSales has gone 6-2 against Watterson since coach Ryan Wiggins took
over in 2007, including a 25-14 win last year. The Eagles lead the
all-time series 34-21-1…COMPLETE STORY

*Hilliard Davidson at Olentangy Liberty

The Olentangy Liberty High School football team has only one loss and
has reeled off five consecutive victories, but if the playoffs started
today the Patriots would be on the outside looking in.

Despite being 6-1 overall, Liberty is 12th in the Division I, Region 3
computer ratings and only the top eight teams in each region qualify
for the postseason. The reason that the Patriots are the only team in
their region with six victories that isn’t in the top eight is their
strength of schedule, as all of their wins have come against opponents
with losing records.

“We’re just happy to be where we are right now,” said coach Steve
Hale, whose team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons after
making six consecutive postseason appearances from 2004-09. “Each week
we talk about controlling our own destiny. As long as we take care of
business, it should all work out.”

That task becomes much more challenging over the next two weeks, as
Liberty faces Hilliard Davidson on Thursday, Oct. 11, at home in a
contest being televised on WWHO and plays host to Dublin Coffman on Oct.

Davidson is 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Central Division and has
won its last three games, including a 42-14 rout of Upper Arlington on
Oct. 5. Coffman, which has won its last four meetings against the
Patriots, is first in the region and is 7-0 and 4-0 heading into its
game against Westland on Friday, Oct. 12.

Wins over both Davidson and Coffman almost assuredly would secure a
playoff spot for the Patriots, who are 4-0 in the OCC-Central.

“Our practices have been more focused than they’ve ever been,” senior
linebacker Grant Cartwright said. “We know against Davidson it’s all
going to start up front with our (defensive) line. They do their job and
we can take care of the rest.”

The contest marks the first meeting between Liberty and Davidson, but the Patriots know what to expect…COMPLETE STORY

*Pickerington North at Groveport 

With Jake Butt, Warren Stoddard and Dylan Weigel among its returning
players, the Pickerington High School North football team expected its
defensive front to make it difficult for opposing teams to run the ball.

Defensive tackle Geno Rollo has helped enhance that effort.

A 6-foot-2, 245-pound junior who split time between playing defense
on junior varsity and taking snaps on the offensive line on varsity a
year ago, Rollo leads the Panthers with 8.5 tackles for losses during
their 7-0 start.

In addition to having three solo and one assisted tackle in a 49-27
win over Reynoldsburg on Oct. 5, he had two tackles for losses.

“I played in j.v. games last year on defense, so I’m used to messing
with the big boys,” Rollo said. “They’ve got me playing inside and we’ve
got a couple different defenses. I’ve had to learn the whole defense,
so everything is kind of new to me, but it’s nothing too tough. (The
offensive linemen) are definitely a lot bigger and more talented, and a
lot more experienced than the ones on j.v.”

“Geno’s really come a long way, but we have high expectations for
him,” coach Tom Phillips said. “We will not let up on him. He’s good
right now and he’s on the journey to be great. I think he can be a great
football player.”

Phillips was disappointed with his team’s defense during a non-league schedule in which the Panthers…COMPLETE STORY

*Westerville North at Hilliard Bradley 

Bradley has lost four consecutive games, but that pales in comparison to North, which has lost 42 in a row.

The last win for the Warriors was a 21-17 decision over Westerville
Central on Sept. 19, 2008, one season before Bradley opened. North is
surrendering 43.4 points per game and scoring 10 per outing. The Jaguars
are scoring 22.3 points per contest, but only 16.5 in their losses.
Bradley is giving up 19.9 points per game, but 30.8 during its losses…COMPLETE STORY


*Big Walnut at New Albany  

This contest is crucial for Big Walnut’s playoff hopes. The Golden
Eagles entered last week 16th in the Division II, Region 7 computer
ratings and were expected to gain some ground with their win over Mount
Vernon. However, they still were projected to be outside the top eight,
which qualify for the playoffs.

Christian Johnson, a sophomore, has emerged as Big Walnut’s featured
running back, rushing for 241 yards and two touchdowns against Delaware
on Sept. 22 and running for 73 yards against Mount Vernon on Oct. 5.
Defensively for Big Walnut, Seth Myers and Adam Shaheen both have five

New Albany has won five consecutive games and is seeking its fourth win in a row in the series and fifth in six years.

Darron Lee is equally adept at running and passing and has scored nine
touchdowns, and Leslie Anoyke and Alan Watson have been sharing the load
at running back….COMPLETE STORY

*Reynoldsburg at Lancaster  

Both teams have leaned on their running games all season.

Alex Butsko took over at quarterback for Lancaster after five weeks and
the Gales beat Groveport 35-34 on Sept. 28. Lancaster followed a tight
loss to Pickerington Central (14-10 on Sept. 14) by giving up an average
of 34.3 points the last three weeks.

Reynoldsburg has a pair of key offensive weapons in Mykel
Traylor-Bennett at wide receiver and Kumar Collins at running back.
Jordan Aekins passed for two touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards on 13
carries against Gahanna, which gives up just 9.7 points per game….COMPLETE STORY

*Watkins Memorial at Olentangy

Ben Shroyer, a junior, has thrown for 787 yards with seven touchdowns
and six interceptions to guide a Watkins Memorial offense built around
Brenden Kemp, a third-year starter at running back who is nearing 1,200
yards this season. The Warriors returned nine starters on defense.

Its league title hopes now in peril, Olentangy remains in solid position
for the Division I, Region 3 playoffs, especially with two sub-.500
teams on the schedule — Watkins Memorial and 1-6 Delaware sandwiched
around 5-2 Mount Vernon — the final three weeks. Andrew Horstman is a
rushing threat who has 10 touchdowns on the ground. A lack of speed at
times doomed the Braves last week, when they allowed almost 300 yards



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