Darby to face motivated Westerville Central
Darby's Cameron Kohl tackles Dublin Scioto's Tim Shadoan just outside of the end zone on Oct. 12 during the Panthers' 28-24 victory. Darby improved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division and will play host to Westerville Central on Friday, Oct. 19.
Hilliard Darby High School football coach John Santagata realizes his team will be facing a motivated opponent when it plays host to Westerville Central in an OCC-Cardinal Division game on Friday, Oct. 19.
Central will be looking to bounce back from a 50-28 loss to Westerville South on Oct. 12 and remain in contention for the OCC-Cardinal championship as well as a Division I playoff berth.
Darby defeated Dublin Scioto 28-24 on Oct. 12 to improve to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Cardinal. The Panthers have a one-game lead over Scioto (4-1) in the league standings.
Central dropped to 6-2 and 3-2 with the loss to South and is tied for third in the OCC-Cardinal standings with South and Dublin Jerome.
Darby closes the regular season Oct. 26 at Hilliard Bradley, which is 4-4 and 1-4.
"This stretch is a tough one," Santagata said. "We know Westerville Central is a good football team. We know they have a lot of athletes and good coaching, so it's going to be a challenge. Last year they were a playoff team and they're probably going to play with a lot of intensity coming off that loss (to South)."
The game between Darby and Central represents the first meeting between the programs. Darby moved from the OCC-Central to the OCC-Cardinal last summer as part of OCC realignment.
The Panthers are averaging 37.4 points a game and allowing an average of 16.5.
"Darby has beat some very good football teams," Central coach John Magistro said. "They're very sound. When you can beat South (28-14 on Oct. 5), Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Davidson (17-3 on Aug. 31), that pretty much tells you what kind of program you have."
Senior quarterback Chase Longwell leads Darby's spread offense, having completed 44 of 69 passes for 720 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. He also has rushed for a team-high 665 yards and nine touchdowns on 102 carries.
"Central is a great team with a whole bunch of weapons that can make plays on any given down," said Longwell, who also plays in the Panthers' secondary. "They're definitely a strong team. We just have to execute and do what we're coached and make sure we're keying in on their key players and play every single down."
Senior running back Caleb Day, a University of Illinois recruit, has 25 receptions for 405 yards and five touchdowns and has rushed for 386 yards and eight touchdowns on 42 carries.
"We want to establish the run and play sound defense," Santagata said. "It's important that we do that."
Against Scioto, Longwell scored the decisive touchdown on a 1-yard run on fourth down with 2 minutes, 2 seconds remaining. The Panthers trailed 17-7 at halftime and 24-14 after three quarters.
Central, which is averaging 28.7 points and allowing 18.1, had allowed more than 20 points only one other time -- a 34-14 loss to Scioto on Sept. 14 -- before giving up 50 to South.
The Warhawks led South 28-21 at halftime but were outscored 29-0 in the second half.
Junior quarterback Jared Drake has completed 81 of 165 passes for 1,109 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has rushed for a team-best 918 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Junior running back Alex Fisher has rushed for 587 yards and four touchdowns on 110 carries, and senior wide receiver Charlie Moushey has a team-high 27 receptions for 490 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"We have a chance to play a real good football team again," Magistro said of Darby. "If you can beat a real good football team, that puts you in the right direction."