Gahanna High School football coach John Snoad is expecting his offense to face blitzes on nearly every down Friday when the Lions play at Pickerington Central in an OCC-Ohio Division game.
Thus, Snoad said his spread offense must be ready to distribute the ball quickly against the Tigers' multiple-front defense.
Gahanna lost to Lancaster 30-28 last Friday to drop to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio, even though the Lions had their best offensive effort of the season. Quarterback Tanner Zwelling threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more, and Sante Cook had 10 receptions for 89 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown catch.
Central hammered Pickerington North 42-0 last Friday to improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio. The Tigers posted their third shutout in four games behind the leadership of backs Eilar Hardy, Tamani Carter and Mike Jamar-Brown, lineman Jacoby Boren, and linebackers Greg Basalyga and Jay Smith.
"They blitz and bring very heavy pressure early and often, so you have to make plays before they get to you," said Snoad, whose squad lost to Central 42-0 last year. "The problem is they have talented kids in the backfield who are difficult to make plays against. The bottom line is our players need to make good decisions quickly to get the ball past their pressure."
Guided by a large and experienced offensive line, the Tigers' multiple-formation offense will run the ball at Gahanna's 4-2 defense, with running backs Tyler "Speedy" Hammond, Hardy and Devon Penick getting the bulk of the carries. Last Friday, Hammond rushed for 76 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
Central also features a pair of dangerous kickoff and punt returners in Hardy and Roger Lewis. Lewis had an 86-yard punt return, which set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Hammond last Friday.
Gahanna's defense struggled last Friday, giving up 424 yards, including 350 rushing yards.
"They're more talented than any team we've seen," Snoad said. "They have so much talent they can't get everybody on the field. Since their offense is so varied in formations and players, we're going to focus on not giving up any big returns on special teams, because we can't afford to give their offense a short field to work with."