Hilliard Northwest News

Football

Bradley, Kilbourne out to end losing skids

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Somebody's luck will be changing Friday, Oct. 5, when the Worthington Kilbourne High School football team plays host to Hilliard Bradley in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest.

The Wolves and Jaguars probably were happy to see the calendar change to October, as they combined for a 1-7 record in September after going 3-1 in August.

"You may have heard this before, but I think it absolutely fits Kilbourne: They are the best 1-5 team in the state," Bradley coach Mike LoParo said. "You watch them on film and you wonder how it could be. They've been in virtually every game. Most of their losses have been by a touchdown or less. They've just had trouble finishing."

Kilbourne is 1-5 overall and has lost four games in a row. Bradley is 3-3 and has lost its last three. Both are 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal as they meet for the first time.

"They may have lost three in a row, but look who they've lost to, some of the top teams in our league," Kilbourne coach Vince Trombetti said. "They have a mix of good size, good speed and good toughness. When you can run the jet sweep well against Westerville South and play well enough in space to defend their athletes, you're pretty talented."

Bradley won its first three games before losing 28-26 to Dublin Jerome on Sept. 14 in its OCC-Cardinal opener. The Jaguars then lost to South 28-16 in a game that was suspended Sept. 21 because of lightning and completed the next day. On Sept. 28, they trailed Westerville Central 19-0 at halftime en route to a 33-10 loss.

South and Central are both 5-1.

"That's the only game that we haven't competed well," LoParo said, referring to the loss to Central. "It's not that we didn't play hard. We just fell behind so early that we got out of our game plan some. When you're an option team, it's difficult to come back from larger deficits. We've been hit real hard by a lot of injuries and our defense had trouble getting off the field in the first half. It was 19-3 going into the fourth quarter, but we just wore down."

Kilbourne also was competitive against South, as the Wolves trailed 21-7 after three quarters before falling 28-7 on Sept. 14. The Wolves lost to Central 29-17 on Sept. 22 before falling to undefeated Hilliard Darby 34-27 on Sept. 28.

Kilbourne and Darby were tied at 13 midway through the third quarter before the Panthers scored 21 consecutive points to take a 34-13 lead. The Wolves, whose fourth-quarter rally fell short, had only 50 yards on offense in the first half and allowed 457 total yards.

"I think (Darby) had like 44 snaps in the first half, which was way too many," Trombetti said. "We just ran out of gas on defense there and (Darby) took advantage. We got back into the game because we recovered an onside kick to get us within seven points and we had the ball with a chance to tie with under two minutes left, but we were deep in our own end."

Bradley, which is averaging 23.7 points a game, is led on offense by quarterback Tommy Horn, slotback Matt Bryant and wide receiver Zach Popevec. Running back Eric Bridgett is expected to return from an injury this week, as is tight end Tanner Young. Anchoring the line are Skylar Hartley and Fraser Smith.

"They get after you physically on offense and defense," Trombetti said.

"They have a tough defense, like all Hilliard teams. They just have that toughness, which must be an upbringing there regardless of what high school they attend."

Bradley's defense is led by linebackers Popovec and Bradley Spelman, ends Smith and Young and backs Bridgett and Bryant. Nose guard Tevin Anderson (6-foot-2, 403 pounds) is expected to return to the lineup this week after being injured in the opener, a 17-10 win over Marysville on Aug. 24.

The Jaguars' defense is allowing an average of 17.5 points per game.

Despite its record, Kilbourne is averaging 20.2 points a game and allowing an average of 22 per game.

The Wolves are led on offense by running backs Isaac Lumpkin, Justin Stoner, Seth Hill and Chandler Bridges, quarterback Keaton Reinhart and wide receiver Alex Rayis. On defense, leading the way are linebackers Josh Happ and Brian Sommers, end D.J. Freer and linemen Gavin Elifritz and Izzy Benzegala.

"Their quarterback is not explosive, but he reads defenses very well, they have some good slotbacks and (Lumpkin) is very dangerous," LoParo said. "They've got weapons. Defensively, they have a very impressive linebacker in (Happ) and they've got a great end who sticks out on film (Freer). It's going to be another challenge and we're both entering hungry. It should be a good game."

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