Liberty set for matchup with Coffman
Opponents of the Dublin Coffman High School football team have had trouble slowing down the Shamrocks' spread offense this season.
The fact that the Olentangy Liberty defense faces a spread offense every day in practice may help the Patriots contain the Coffman offense when the teams meet in an OCC-Central Division contest Friday, Oct. 19, at Liberty.
The Shamrocks, who are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central, are averaging 47.8 points per game.
"We certainly see similar things at practice to some degree, but it still comes down to blocking and tackling and executing correctly," said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team is 6-2 and 4-1. "But Coffman has been doing well, being unbeaten this season, never giving up more than 14 points and scoring tons of points."
Coffman is allowing an average of 10 points per game. The most points the Shamrocks have given up is 14, which came in a 34-14 win over Dublin Scioto on Aug. 31 and a 56-14 win over Thomas Worthington on Sept. 28. They are coming off their highest point total of the season, a 69-13 win over Westland on Oct. 12.
"(Liberty) knows how to defend shotgun teams like us because they see it every day in practice," said Coffman coach Mark Crabtree, whose team was ranked fourth in the Division I state poll last week behind Cleveland St. Ignatius, Cincinnati Colerain and Lakewood St. Edward. "I don't think we will do anything that will catch them off guard."
The Shamrocks have a one-game lead in the OCC-Central over Liberty and Hilliard Davidson. Upper Arlington is fourth at 3-2, followed by Marysville (2-3), Thomas Worthington (2-3), Central Crossing (0-5) and Westland (0-5).
The Patriots lost to Davidson 28-7 on Oct. 11, snapping their five-game winning streak. Liberty was held to 172 total yards after averaging 427 through seven games.
"We need to go back, focusing on fundamentals," said Hale, whose team also lost to Olentangy, 28-16 on Aug. 31. "We need to go back to focusing on blocking and tackling. We had breakdowns resulting in turnovers and various things. We just have to keep working to get better."
The Patriots are led by senior quarterback Joey Longhino, who has completed 122 of 168 passes for 1,823 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. His primary targets are senior Bryson Wray (27 catches, 427 yards, 3 touchdowns), junior Dan Rhinehart (26 catches, 452 yards, 2 touchdowns), junior Carter Rudek (19 catches, 318 yards, 2 touchdowns) and junior running back Daryian Davies (16 catches, 129 yards, 3 touchdowns).
Davies leads Liberty in rushing with 600 yards and 10 touchdowns on 116 carries. Longhino has rushed for 308 yards and six touchdowns on 79 carries.
"Their quarterback is a good player and they have good skill players around him," Crabtree said. "They have some good players on offense and their defense is built around their linebacker, (Grant) Cartwright. They are a good, well-coached team and they know where they need to be."
Coffman is led by dual-threat quarterback James Walsh, an Ohio University recruit who has completed 96 of 144 passes for 1,550 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 457 yards and eight touchdowns on 73 carries.
His top targets are seniors Austen Rankin (29 catches, 472 yards, 6 touchdowns), Zac Fouche (26 catches, 514 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Tony Woodford (19 catches, 212 yards, 1 touchdown).
Senior running back Bilal Williamson is the Shamrocks' top rusher with 1,031 yards and 20 touchdowns on 130 carries. He also has 10 receptions for 161 yards and two scores.
Against Westland, Walsh was 10-for-11 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Williamson rushed for 113 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries and Fouche had six catches for 86 yards and one score.
"They are a senior-driven team with a lot of talented players," Hale said of Coffman. "Their quarterback, Walsh, is going to Ohio U. They have talented receivers, a good (offensive) line and Williamson is as good a running back as anyone in central Ohio. We have to be ready to step up and play on Friday night."