The Olentangy Liberty High School football team has proven that its defense can be stingy against the run.
The Patriots held Upper Arlington, which has Michigan State recruit Chris Frey among its running backs, to 81 yards on 38 carries in their 16-8 win Sept. 27. The challenge will be even bigger Friday, Oct. 18, when they travel to Hilliard Davidson for an OCC-Central Division game.
The Wildcats, who were ranked seventh in the Division I state poll last week and improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central with a 21-0 win over UA on Oct. 11, have one of the area's most potent option attacks.
"We know what they're good at and they have great (blocking) technique," Patriots two-way lineman and University of Cincinnati recruit Luke Callahan said. "They also like to throw the swing pass. We know this game is definitely important to us from the standpoint of the league standings and computer points (in the region standings)."
Liberty, which is in Division I, Region I, improved to 4-3 and 3-1 with a 66-0 win over Westland on Oct. 11. The Patriots scored 36 points in the first quarter against the Cougars and finished with 312 yards rushing on 40 carries.
Running back Daryian Davies led the way with 76 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Running back Nick Durtschi added 49 yards and two touchdowns on six carries and caught an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Davies (650 yards, 130 carries, 11 TDs) and Durtschi (438 yards, 58 carries, 5 TDs) are the top rushers for Liberty. Durtschi also has 21 receptions for 341 yards and four touchdowns, and senior quarterback Matt Kessler has thrown for 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
"Olentangy Liberty beat Upper Arlington by a similar score," Davidson coach Brian White said. "(Liberty) is big. They have a big, old defensive line, offensive line. It will be another extreme struggle for us, I'm sure."
Davidson was contained offensively in a scoreless first half against UA, but drove 70 yards on eight plays on its first possession of the second half, capping the drive with a 29-yard touchdown run by running back D.D. Clark, who finished with 89 yards and 22 carries.
Liberty's defense, which held Westland to 17 total yards, will be focused on Clark, a senior who has 791 yards on 115 carries (a 6.9-yard average) and has scored eight touchdowns. Senior quarterback Nick Iske has completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns this season.
"We've been sticking to our defense for the most part this season, but we've added some different techniques, depending on what kind of offense we will face," Callahan said. "I know the coaches have told us to prepare for a rough week of practice because they're going to push us hard (to prepare for Davidson)."