The high school football season continues as league races begin to take shape for most area squads. Here is a look at Week 6 matchups for local teams:
The high school football season continues as league races begin to take shape for most area squads. Here is a look at Week 6 matchups for local teams:Olentangy Liberty (2-3, 1-1) at Olentangy (2-3, 1-1)
Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy enter their showdown on Friday, Sept. 30, at Olentangy on different ends of the emotional spectrum.
The Braves fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division with a 14-13 triple-overtime loss to visiting Marysville on Sept. 23 as running back Joshua Perry was stopped on a two-point conversion try in the third overtime. That same night, the Patriots improved to 2-3 and 1-1 with a 20-16 win over visiting Dublin Jerome, marking their first win over the Celtics in four meetings. A goal-line stand in the fourth quarter helped Liberty rally for the come-from-behind victory.
"In this game, (what happened last week) probably won't matter much either way," said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team's 2-3 start is the worst since the school opened in 2003. "The kids are going to be fired up because it's an intra-district game and they're going to play with a lot of emotions."
Olentangy won 10-7 in last year's matchup, but Liberty leads the series 2-1.
"We've got to try to get healthy mentally, physically and emotionally," Braves coach Ed Terwilliger said. "We're just going to have to go back to the drawing board this week and figure out what we can do to win it."
If Olentangy is to be successful, it must find a way to slow Liberty's spread offense, led by quarterback Joey Longhino, who threw touchdown passes of 1 and 3 yards to Bryson Wray and 43 yards to A.J. Motika against Jerome. Longhino has thrown for 1,000 yards and is on track to break the program's single-season passing record of 1,712 yards, set by 2011 graduate Taylor Hudson last year.
Olentangy has struggled against the spread offense this season. Both Delaware, which defeated the Braves 18-14 on Sept. 2, and Big Walnut, which routed the Braves 41-13 on Sept. 9, hurt Olentangy with short passes out of the spread.
"What we're going to do is do the things we feel like we do best," Hale said. "We're going to spread the field and put our kids in space and see if they can make some plays."
"Liberty will come in here and be totally different (from Marysville)," Terwilliger said. "They're going to try to run up and down the field with their spread offense. (Hale) and his staff will do a great job preparing their guys to come in here and we know we'll take their best shot. We seem to take everybody's best shot."
The Patriots' defense, led by linebacker Grant Cartwright, will have to slow the Braves' grinding running game led by Perry and running back Derrick Rodgers. Perry, an Ohio State recruit as a linebacker, has scored six touchdowns and rushed for 384 yards the past three games.
"They were very big last year and they're quite big up front again," Hale said of the Braves. "They run power sets on offense and they do a nice job with those. We're going to be a little undersized, so we're going to have to work very hard at that."
-Paul BattersonNew Albany (4-1, 2-0) at Olentangy Orange (3-2, 1-1)
Once again, the game between New Albany and Olentangy Orange will impact the OCC-Capital Division race.
After losing to Big Walnut 35-34 on Sept. 24, Orange is hoping not to fall two games behind New Albany in the league.
The Eagles, coming off a 45-22 victory over Watkins Memorial on Sept. 23, have a chance to take a commanding lead over the Pioneers by winning Friday, Sept. 30, at Orange.
"They run a wing-T. They're going to be fundamentally sound. They're going to look a lot like us," said New Albany coach Mark Mueller, whose team is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Capital. "It's going to be their homecoming, so they're going to be ready to play football."
This is New Albany's first trip to Orange, which has been in the league since the school's inaugural season in 2008. The past two games have been played in Crew Stadium. New Albany won 28-21 last year on its way to capturing the OCC-Capital title at 7-0, two games ahead of Orange, Big Walnut and Mount Vernon.
New Albany showed off its offense against Watkins Memorial, scoring 42 points in the first half. Zach Tomi, who started the season splitting time at quarterback with Darron Lee, has taken over full time and was 10-for-11 passing for 160 yards and four touchdowns.
Tomi's effectiveness enabled the Eagles to rest starting running backs Connor Wilson and Dan Brittan, both of whom played sparingly as Hayden George received the bulk of the carries. George rushed six times for 72 yards.
Leading Orange is running back Brandon Schoen, who rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries against Big Walnut. He also had an 87-yard kickoff return and an 18-yard interception return for scores.
Orange had a 34-21 lead late in the third quarter when it had an extra point blocked. After Big Walnut took the lead, Orange's Bryan Schrader missed a 22-yard field goal wide right with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining.
"This one is going to sting but we have to put it behind us," said Orange coach Brian Cross, whose team is 3-2 and 1-1. "New Albany has a good nucleus back and they won the league last year, so we have to be ready to play."