When the Dublin Coffman and Westerville South high school football teams meet, fans usually get their money's worth.
South beat Coffman twice last season, evening the slate in the four games played since 2002. The Wildcats won 31-21 in the second week of the season and 28-14 in the opening round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
When the teams play Friday, Sept. 2, at Coffman, the Shamrocks will have to slow another high-powered South attack to regain control of the series.
Coffman won 21-19 in a Division I regional semifinal in 2009 and 17-10 in the opening round of playoffs in 2006. The teams did not play from 2002-05.
"There's a little bit of history between the two schools," said Coffman coach Mark Crabtree, whose team won its opener Aug. 26 over visiting Olentangy Liberty 31-27. "It always seems to be a really good game and the programs have a lot of respect for each other."
The Wildcats opened with a 47-18 win Aug. 26 over visiting Groveport despite having 17 new starters. Senior quarterback Marcus Ball (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) was 11-of-19 passing for 159 yards and touchdowns of 12, 14 and 37 yards to senior wide receiver Gary Brown (6-0, 185), who had seven catches for 138 yards. Senior running back Daxton Cates (5-10, 210) rushed for 229 yards on 17 carries with touchdowns of 32 and 12 yards.
"I think that we opened up by going wide and going to the perimeter," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "Daxton is so explosive that when he found the seam, he got the job done. Marcus was throwing the ball well and that loosened up (Groveport defense's) a bit."
Crabtree was impressed by the Wildcats' opening performance.
"I think to play a team with speed like South has, you better hope that you have speed to match it," Crabtree said. "We have some kids with speed, but the main thing is focusing on the basic things like staying with our assignments and tackling.
"South may seem that they are not very sophisticated offensively, but they don't really have to be. They are very good at what they do and that's why they are successful."
Against Liberty, Coffman took advantage of three miscues in the third quarter by the Patriots. The Shamrocks scored 17 of their 24 points in the third following an interception, a lost fumble and a bad snap on a punt.
Pentello said the Wildcats can't afford similar mistakes.
"I think we have 15 new starters who are all underclassmen and that can put you at a disadvantage against a team like Coffman," Pentello said. "You have to be disciplined in your assignments, and I don't know if we are there yet."
Junior quarterback James Walsh (6-1, 181) made his first start for Coffman against Liberty and completed 18 of 30 passes for 220 yards with a 35-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Marcus Davis (5-10, 170). Walsh also had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
"I thought James played well and really did a good job considering it was his first varsity start," Crabtree said. "We saw a lot of things we could coach him on so that can better understand the nuances of the position."
Junior running back Bilal Williamson (5-7, 185) had a 3-yard scoring run for the Shamrocks and junior place-kicker Grant Coffman (5-9, 164) made a 26-yard field goal and four extra points.
Senior defensive back Tre Scott (6-0, 182) intercepted Liberty quarterback Joey Longhino in the end zone with 5 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
"I'm not sure we made as many physical mistakes as we did mental mistakes," Crabtree said. "We kept some of (Liberty's) drives going by committing fourth-down penalties and they did a good job of taking advantage of those situations. We have to play smarter this week and hopefully won't put ourselves in those situations."