The Hilliard Darby High School football team will play host Friday to Dublin Coffman in an OCC-Central Division game that is a rematch of the a Division I regional final from a year ago.

Darby quarterback Brandon Bargar doesn't deny that the Panthers will be seeking redemption after losing to the Shamrocks 42-35 in the playoffs a year ago. More importantly, though, the Panthers will be trying to get back into the hunt for the OCC-Central title and a playoff berth after losing to Upper Arlington 24-14 last Friday to drop to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in league play.

Coffman beat Thomas Worthington 49-6 last Friday to improve to 6-0 and 3-0.

"When our schedule came out for this season, this was the first game that caught our attention because we'd love to get some revenge for what happened last year," Bargar said. "But what's really motivating us is we can't lose this game or we'll lose our shot at winning the OCC and making the playoffs. We feel like our backs are up against the wall and we've got to win out to have the kind of season we were hoping for."

Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said the playoff game is ancient history as far as the Shamrocks are concerned.

"This doesn't feel like a rematch to me because we both lost marquee players and this won't be a playoff game," Crabtree said. "We'll have the same uniforms but a lot of different players. This is still a big game for us, though. One of our biggest goals is to win the OCC and this is an important step in doing that."

Bargar is confident Darby's pistol offense will be able to stretch out the Shamrocks' 4-3 defense enough to find running lanes.

But Bargar, who has rushed for 663 yards and 15 touchdowns and is 63 of 97 passing for 832 yards and five touchdowns, said the Panthers will need to avoid turning the ball over.

Darby turned the ball over five times last Friday, setting up two of UA's touchdowns. The Panthers also committed four turnovers Sept. 12 in a 28-21 loss to Worthington Kilbourne.
"We believe the only team that can stop us is ourselves," Bargar said.

"We've moved the ball in every game, but we've shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers in our two losses. I need to make better reads to avoid throwing interceptions, and we need to be focused enough to carry the ball with two hands instead of one. The good news is they do what our defense does, so we can practice against our defense this week, instead of our scout team. That will be make practices more competitive and game-like, and it will give us a better idea of what we need to do to move the ball on Dublin Coffman."

Crabtree said it's crucial that his linemen and linebackers contain Bargar and Darby running backs Iko Bako and Matt Cyrus, so that his backs can keep receivers Tyler McIntosh and Jordan Rispress covered instead of having to provide extra run support.

Four second-year starters lead the Shamrocks' defense - linemen Stephen Mazur, Nick Friedman and Austin Crawfis and linebacker Evan Mulkey.

"When a team is proficient at running the ball, you have to find a way to control that first, or you'll never stop them," Crabtree said. "Their quarterback is good. We haven't seen a great passing quarterback yet, and he's got a good arm and good receivers, so it's important that our defensive backs are able to run with their receivers, because he's able to run and throw."

The Shamrocks will attempt to keep Darby's 4-3 defense off balance by switching back and forth between spread and I- formations.

Coffman's offense is led by tailback Shaun Jones, fullback Jared Phillips, quarterback Cole Stoudt and receivers E.J. Williams, Matt Glynn and Gabe Neff.

Last Friday, Stoudt finished 9-for-13 for 146 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Matt Glynn. Jones had only 10 carries, but he rushed for two touchdowns and 97 yards. Phillips added 64 yards rushing and 29 yards receiving.

"We're emphasizing the running game, because our running backs are pretty good and our offensive line is good at run-blocking," Crabtree said. "We're inexperienced at quarterback, but we're still going to throw the ball. Their defensive players move around well, so we'll have to continue to switch up what we're doing."

After giving up 318 rushing yards on 49 carries last Friday, Darby free safety Harrison Reed said the Panthers' linebackers and backs will need to recognize running plays more quickly so they can use their speed to outnumber the Shamrocks at the point of attack.

Darby's defense, which is led by linebackers Blake Fraley and Zach Ison and safeties Nick Martin and Reed, should be bolstered by the return of tackle Blake Clowes, who didn't play last Friday because of a sprained ankle.

"Our first priority is to stop their run and make them throw the ball," Reed said. "Our offense runs the spread, too, so we're used to seeing it. We just went up against a great running team and we know we need to do a better job of reading our keys and flying to the ball to make tackles."