New Albany News

OCC-Capital Football Preview

Kilbourne continues its nomadic ways

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One of the many wrinkles of the latest OCC realignment is that the most veteran football coach in the OCC-Capital Division knows little about the league.

But Worthington Kilbourne High School's Vince Trombetti hopes that works in his team's favor despite the program winning just 15 games the past four years and not recording a winning season since 2009.

"We're leaving a good league (the OCC-Cardinal) and entering a good league," said Trombetti, who is in his seventh season leading the Wolves. "I think New Albany and Olentangy will be the teams to beat in the (OCC-Capital). They seem to have strong programs traditionally. Then again, they won't know much about us for the most part either. Plus, we've added some wrinkles offensively that we hope will put us back on the winning track."

Kilbourne has been a nomad much of the past decade, competing in every current OCC division except the Ohio. The school opened in 1991 and spent much of its first 15 years having the majority of its teams compete in the Central. But the expansion of many suburban districts spurred realignment. The Wolves were in the Cardinal from 2006-08, moved back to the Central from 2008-12, then slid to the Cardinal last year.

Kilbourne moved to the Capital to take Watkins Memorial's place when the Warriors left to join the newly reformed Licking County League. Canal Winchester replaced Kilbourne in the Cardinal.

That has left annual rivalry games with Dublin Scioto and Thomas Worthington as virtually the only constants in the Wolves' schedule.

"Until we get in and re-acquainted with some of these teams, we won't know things for sure," said Trombetti, whose team returns six starters on each side of the ball.

New Albany has ruled the OCC-Capital in recent years, winning or sharing each of the past four league championships. Those were won under Mark Mueller, who resigned in March after eight seasons. His replacement, Pat Samanich, was offensive coordinator for Mueller's entire tenure.

New Albany advanced to a Division II state semifinal last year, losing to Trotwood-Madison 33-32. The Eagles return five starters on offense and six on defense but lost quarter-back/safety Darron Lee, an Ohio State signee, to graduation.

Olentangy, which at 6-1 in the OCC-Capital last year was second to the undefeated Eagles, also has a first-year coach. Mark Solis replaced 24-year coach Ed Terwilliger, who retired in May.

The Braves were 10-2 overall a year ago, losing to Hilliard Davidson 29-14 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal.

"The league gets us playoff ready, and that's all you can ask for," Samanich said.

Only three OCC-Capital coaches have been at their current school longer than four seasons -- Trombetti, Olentangy Orange's Brian Cross (six seasons) and Big Walnut's Joe Weaver (five). Mount Vernon's Anthony Naples and Delaware's Zebb Schroeder each is in his third season, and Franklin Heights' Mike Owens is in his second.

Solis, who coached the past two seasons at Lorain after stops at Ashland Crestview, Elyria and Twinsburg, had some built-in central Ohio friendships when he was hired in early June. But between learning the Olentangy players and community and balancing his new job with his home life in northeast Ohio, Solis hasn't had a chance to expand some of his horizons.

"I've just been about our kids so far," Solis said. "I know Brian Cross over at Orange real well, I know Steve Hale (of Olentangy Liberty) pretty well. I know quite a few coaches in the area, like John Snoad (Gahanna) and Rocky Pentello (Westerville South). I know enough guys in the area that I've touched base, but I've embedded myself with our kids."

Owens sees realignment as a changing of the guard, giving Kilbourne the inside track to dominating the league the next few years despite New Albany and Olentangy's more recent success.

"This league has become a great one and will be a huge challenge every week," said Owens, whose team was 2-8 last year.

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