With quarterback D'Mitrik Trice, wide receiver Tristan Davis and running back Trey McFadden leading its spread offense, the Huber Heights Wayne High School football team is averaging 38.5 points per game.
According to Hilliard Darby linebacker Trevor Parker, it will be crucial for the Panthers' 4-3 defense to get pressure on Trice when the teams meet in the first round of the Division I playoffs Saturday, Nov. 9, at Wayne.
Wayne, which is 9-1 and has a seven-game winning streak, is seeded fifth in Region 2 and Darby, which defeated Bradley 19-16 in overtime Nov. 1 to improve to 8-2 overall and finish 6-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, is seeded 12th. The top 16 teams in the region qualified for the postseason.
"Their offense is a lot like Westerville South's offense in that they are a spread offense that does a lot of passing and their players have a lot of speed," said Parker, whose team beat Westerville South 52-17 on Oct. 11. "Their quarterback throws the ball well, so we need to close the pocket around him and pressure him before he can find someone to throw the ball to. Our secondary will cover in man and we don't want to give them a lot of space to work with."
Darby's defense gave up 429 total yards in a 35-21 loss to host Westerville Central and its fast-paced spread offense Oct. 25, but the Panthers allowed an average of 11.6 points in their other nine games.
Parker leads the Darby in tackles with 89, followed by linebackers Ben Radcliff (66) and Braeden Hook (52) and defensive backs Zack Donatelli (45) and Trevor Cox (44).
Defensive ends Jake Harms (6) and Josh Humbert (3) have combined for nine of Darby's 15 sacks, and tackles Brian Casey and Kyle Knudsen have made it difficult for opponents to run up the middle, according to coach John Santagata.
"(Trice) does a nice job throwing the ball, so we need to get some pressure in the backfield," said Santagata, whose team is making its third playoff appearance in four years and fourth overall. "When we do get some pressure on him, our secondary will need to support the run because he can run well, too."
Santagata will be looking for his offense to help his defense.
"We've got to run the football well to control the clock and keep their offense off the field for as long as possible," he said. "We need to establish the run with a bunch of different athletes because we're less predictable when we don't rely on one guy."
Quarterback Nate Green leads the Darby offense, having completed 48 of 82 passes for 692 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions and having rushed for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns on 167 carries.
Fullback Lorenzo McLaurin is the team's second-leading rusher with 572 yards and eight touchdowns, followed by running back Anton Trapasso (375 yards and four touchdowns) and slotback Jacob Stacy (351 yards and five touchdowns).
Santagata said the Panthers may need to pass more than usual to keep Wayne's multiple-front defense from overloading the box. The Warriors features a pair of linebackers in Dorian Hendrix and Diamond Jones and defensive tackle Robert Landers.
Hendrix has committed to the University of Kentucky.
"Their defense has kids all over the field who can make plays," Santagata said. "They have two talented linebackers, a good defensive lineman and a very fast secondary, so we have to continue to diversify on offense to make them defend the entire field."
Wayne coach Jay Minton had guided his team to the playoffs 11 times in 17 seasons, including Division I state runner-up finishes in 1999 and 2010. His 2010 team was led by Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Last season, Darby defeated Westerville South 31-10 in its playoff opener before losing to Pickerington North 24-14 in a Region 3 semifinal.