Over the past three weeks, the Hilliard Bradley High School football team has gotten a rude awakening to varsity football.

Over the past three weeks, the Hilliard Bradley High School football team has gotten a rude awakening to varsity football.

After beating Columbus West 19-18 in the opener Aug. 29, the Jaguars defeated Teays Valley 28-22 on Sept. 4. But then they hit three big speed bumps against experienced OCC teams with losses to Thomas Worthington (32-0 on Sept. 11), New Albany (47-14 on Sept. 18) and Hilliard Darby (49-7 last Friday), dropping their record to 2-3.

It might not be easier this week when Bradley travels to Sunbury for a league game against Big Walnut. The Golden Eagles are three-time defending OCC-Capital Division champions and owners of a 4-1 record.

"The biggest thing I have seen over the last three weeks is a physical difference on Friday nights," Bradley coach Ted Wierzbicki said. "The teams we have played have just been much more physical than we have been. That's something we want to have at Bradley and the only ways I know to change that is to work hard in practice to get better and to work hard in the offseason in the weight room. Right now, all we can do is to work hard in practice to get better."

Big Walnut has size and a physical running game. The Golden Eagles' offensive line is anchored by 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior tackle Skyler Schofner. According to Rivals.com, he has received 15 Division I scholarship offers, including six from the Big Ten Conference -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

In a 31-15 win over previously-unbeaten Olentangy Orange last Friday, senior fullback Buddy Carrel rushed for 117 yards on 22 carries with touchdowns of 1 and 16 yards to lead Big Walnut. Carrel ran for 96 yards on 22 carries in a 22-7 win over Watkins Memorial on Sept. 18.

Senior quarterback Johnny Cannell completed 12 of 21 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns against Watkins Memorial. He connected with senior wide receiver Bret Myers six times for 141 yards and all three of his touchdowns.

"We can't get down on ourselves because there is a lot of football left in the season," Wierzbicki said. "We've only played five weeks and we can't just go out there and lie down."

The Big Walnut defense is allowing 12.5 points per game. It has been led by senior Seth Dunn and junior Jacob Walaszek at linebacker as well as senior Steve Hobart and junior Matt Brown as linemen.

Last Friday in a 49-7 loss to Darby, the Jaguars used two quarterbacks -- junior Jake Tieman and sophomore Connor Driscoll. On the final play of the game, Driscoll threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior Abdul Hamoud to get the Jaguars on the scoreboard.

"They've won some games already, and I know their coach (Ted Wierzbicki) is a great coach. He coached at St. Charles and did a nice job there, so I expect him to have his team prepared to play," said Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver, whose team is 2-0 in league play. "In Hilliard, they have athletes and there's an expectation over there to play good football."

Junior linebacker Jordan Mulford, who also sees time at running back with sophomore Terell Stanford, had an interception against Darby.

"Like all the Hilliard schools, they're very good," said Brown, who also plays on the offensive line for the Golden Eagles. "They're a young team, but it's a big school and they've got a lot of talent. Davidson and Darby have been talented for years and Bradley is good, so we don't want to underestimate them."

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Bradley (2-3 overall, 0-1 OCC-Capital) to date: Defeated Columbus West 19-18; def. Teays Valley 28-22; lost to Thomas Worthington 32-0; lost to New Albany 47-14; lost to Darby 49-7

•Big Walnut (4-1 overall, 2-0 OCC-Capital) to date: Defeated Westerville Central 21-14; def. Chillicothe 33-10; lost to Olentangy 17-0; def. Watkins Memorial 27-7; def. Olentangy Orange 31-15

•Top Jaguars: Connor Driscoll (QB), Abdul Hamoud (WR), Jordan Mulford (RB/LB), Terell Stanford (RB) and Nate Tieman (QB)

•Top Golden Eagles: Johnny Cannell (QB), Buddy Carrel (RB), Seth Dunn (LB), Cody Leitner (RB), Bret Myers (WR), Skyler Schofner (OL), Jacob Walaszek (LB) and Jason Whitner (DB)