Hilliard Darby High School football coach John Santagata said it will be important for members of his defense to stick with their assignments when facing host Dublin Jerome in an OCC-Cardinal Division game Friday, Sept. 27.
The Panthers' 4-4 defense, which is led by linebacker Trevor Parker (30 tackles), defensive back Ben Radcliff (27 tackles) and linemen Brian Casey and Josh Humbert, forced five turnovers and allowed only 116 total yards in a 37-6 victory over Westerville North on Sept. 20.
But Santagata is expects a different and more difficult challenge from Jerome's double-wing offense.
"We'll have to read our keys and react quickly because Jerome uses a lot of misdirection and they put a lot of bodies, sometimes as many as four, at the point of attack," said Santagata, whose team improved to 3-1 overall with a 37-6 win over Westerville North on Sept. 20 in its OCC-Cardinal opener. "They do a lot of power running, so we have to be sound and physical defensively."
Jerome, which lost to Hilliard Bradley 20-0 on Sept. 20 in its league opener to drop to 2-2 overall, was averaging 27 points through three games but turned the ball over four times against the Jaguars on a rainy night.
Jerome had 201 total yards against Bradley, with running back Steve Kidwell rushing for 75 yards on eight carries, running back Louis Torchio gaining 60 yards on seven carries and quarterback Alex Cline completing three of 17 passes for 47 yards.
Kidwell, however, was on crutches in the second half and his status for this week's game was uncertain as of press time.
"We'll be doing a lot of wet-ball drills (this) week and from here on out," Jerome coach Mark Hundley said. "We have to learn how to throw a wet ball, we have to learn how to hand off a wet ball and how to run with a wet ball."
Darby's spread option offense is led by quarterback Nate Green, fullback Lorenzo McLaurin and slotbacks Jacob Stacy and Devon Rogers.
Through four games, Green has rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries and is 18-for-31 passing for 215 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
McLaurin has rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries, Stacy has rushed for 90 yards and four scores on 21 carries and Rogers has six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
"We're trying to improve our passing and we're spreading the ball around to get more people involved in our offense," Santagata said.
Leading Jerome's defense in tackles against Bradley were linebackers James Hanson (8.5) and Torchio (seven) and lineman Matthew McCarty (six).
"Darby has the same coach and the same scheme," Hundley said. "They will come and run the ball right at us with the option, with the sweep. They're good at that."