The Olentangy High School football team ran 92 plays in its opener, 36 more than Canal Winchester in a 41-6 win Aug. 30.
The Braves’ defense forced the Indians into five three-and-outs, and coach Mark Solis was happy with his team’s physical nature on both sides of the ball.
Yet, Solis graded the Braves’ overall performance as no better than average, and he planned to hammer home the little things as Olentangy prepared to play host to Liberty in its home opener Friday, Sept. 6.
“I’d say we played at a C to C-minus level, and that starts with me,” Solis said. “We ran 36 more plays than (Canal Winchester) and when we do that, we have a good chance to win. But I wasn’t happy with a pick-six (when Indians defensive back William Totten intercepted Braves quarterback Noah Durst at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown) and our special teams were horrible. I love how physical we played, but we need to sharpen things.”
Durst was 12-for-17 passing for 161 yards and a 74-yard touchdown to Hayden Hunter. Junior running back Anthony Golden added two rushing touchdowns.
Olentangy’s defense, led by senior linebackers Tim Feasel and Kevin Sherry, will have to be sharp against a Liberty offense that amassed 341 rushing yards in a 25-7 win over Orange on Aug. 30. Behind a stout offensive line led by Cincinnati recruit Luke Callahan, Patriots junior running back Nick Durtschi rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries.
Senior Daryian Davies added 110 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries to help take pressure off senior quarterback Matt Kessler, who was 12-for-18 passing for 118 yards and an interception in his first start.
“We have some running backs who can run the ball and we’ve got to figure out how to use them right,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “For Matt, it was a good grow-up game for him. It was his first start and he’s obviously got some things to work on, but it was his first game under fire.”
Olentangy has won three consecutive games in the series, which dates to 2008, and leads 3-2.
Solis stopped short of calling Liberty and Olentangy mirror images.
“The strength with them is definitely their offensive line,” said Solis, whose own team’s line features Division I recruit Andy Simms at center. “Their running backs are very active. They look to confuse your blocking schemes, angles and assignments. And on top of that, they’re an intra-district rival. It’s going to be a big game for both teams.”