For the second consecutive week, the Olentangy Orange High School football team will be hitting the road.
This time, however, Orange will have a much longer commute.
The Pioneers will be looking for their first victory of the season when they travel Friday, Sept. 6, to New Philadelphia. Orange lost its opener 25-7 at Liberty on Aug. 30, while the Quakers defeated Canton Central Catholic 34-27 that same night.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity when we go up to New Philadelphia, where they have tremendous tradition,” coach Brian Cross said. “There’s something special about playing in (Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium).”
In New Philadelphia’s opener, senior running back Jamal Johnson rushed for 379 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries. The 5-foot-6, 160-pounder also had an interception as a linebacker.
Last season, Johnson rushed for 2,177 yards.
Senior Caleb Beans is in his third year as the Quakers’ starting quarterback. Last season, the 6-3, 200-pounder threw for 1,780 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Seniors Austin Ballentine (6-1, 230), Cory Reiger (6-0, 250) and Sam Shook (6-3, 250) all return on New Philadelphia’s offensive line.
“I understand (the Quakers) have a great football team and possibly a Division I quarterback,” Cross said. “They’ve got a great little running back and some experience back on the offensive line.”
Against Liberty, the Pioneers allowed 341 yards rushing.
“We will be playing against a (New Philadelphia) team that has about 55 (or) 56 kids, which is what we have,” Cross said. “We ran out of gas against (Liberty).”
Senior running back Alex Menzo had a 68-yard touchdown run on the opening drive for the Pioneers, who led 7-6 at halftime. Menzo finished with 88 yards on nine carries.
Orange junior quarterback C.J. Stablein was 12 of 26 passing for 151 yards.
“You don’t really know how you played until you watch the film the next day,” Cross said of the game against Liberty. “You say, ‘Gosh, we must have stunk.’ Then you watch the film and see one block here or one block there and we might’ve had a score.”