Rocky Fork Enterprise

Football

Rivalry with Upper Arlington features first winless matchup

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Two games into his sixth season as Gahanna Lincoln High School football coach, John Snoad has some grasp of the history of the Lions' rivalry with Upper Arlington.

The Golden Bears have won 28 of the teams' 38 meetings dating to 1927, but their game Friday, Sept. 13, at UA will feature at least one milestone -- both teams enter the game 0-2 for the first time.

"I've heard a lot of people around the community say they couldn't remember the last time neither team had a win under their belts before they played each other," said Snoad, whose team opened with a 62-28 loss at Huber Heights Wayne on Aug. 30 before falling 35-24 to visiting Fairfield on Sept. 6. "But no matter what our records, it's always a good test. I have a great deal of respect for (UA) coach (Mike) Golden and I always know we'll be in for a tough game when we see them."

UA has entered the matchup winless only one other time -- in 2008, when it was 0-1. Gahanna was 1-0 that year, having defeated Mifflin 52-0 in its season opener, but the Bears rolled to a 42-7 win.

That kind of success has evaded UA through the first two weeks of this season. After losing to visiting Marion-Franklin 26-7 in their opener Aug. 30, the Bears were limited to 81 total yards in a 27-7 loss at Cincinnati Elder on Sept. 6. Their only points came on a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter by junior defensive back John Jeong.

"The bottom line for us is we have to sustain drives and help our defense out," said Golden, whose team was held to 131 total yards against Marion-Franklin. "The guys are working hard, but we've put our defense in a position where they've had to be perfect and be on the field for long stretches. You just can't ask that from your defense over and over."

Gahanna led Fairfield 24-21 at halftime, but allowed 14 unanswered second-half points and amassed only 45 total yards in the final two quarters after gaining 243 in the first half.

Junior quarterback Ronald Robinson finished with 176 yards passing and ran for 31 yards and a touchdown. The Lions also got rushing touchdowns from senior wide receiver Tank Davis and sophomore running back T.J. Chatman.

"Their skill people are very good and they've had no trouble moving the ball," Golden said. "Their running backs are small but quick and elusive, and the quarterback is mobile. They're going to throw a good 60 to 65 percent of time, probably."

Gahanna's defense, which alternates between 3-4 and 4-3 formations, lost 10 starters from last season to graduation. The only returning starter is senior cornerback Emile Camm, who had seven interceptions last year.

The Lions will be charged with containing a UA offense led by senior running back Chris Frey, senior fullback Chase Greenlee, junior quarterback Kyle Kaparos and senior center Noah Spielman.

Frey, who also plays linebacker, has made a verbal commitment to Michigan State.

"Like everybody we play, they seem bigger than us," Snoad said. "It seems like every guy they have is 6-(foot)-2 or 6-3 and 270 pounds. They have a real nice offensive line, and a lot of those guys are on defense, too. Frey's a stud and they work a lot around Spielman."

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