Bears, Patriots feature common ground game
Upper Arlington High School football coach Mike Golden knows what to expect from the Olentangy Liberty offense when his team plays host to the Patriots in an OCC-Central Division contest Friday, Sept. 27.
"They run a lot of two-back sets with two backs next to the quarterback, but they'll still spread you out," he said. "They'll emphasize the run, like we do, but they can pass. Our defense has to be prepared, but we've had quite a bit thrown at us already this year."
UA and Liberty entered the matchup with identical 2-2 overall records and 1-0 marks in the OCC-Central.
The Golden Bears lost their first two games by a combined score of 53-14, but clawed back to .500 with lopsided wins over Gahanna (31-7 on Sept. 13) and Thomas Worthington (45-7 on Sept. 20 in their league opener).
UA amassed 277 yards rushing against Gahanna, passing for only 29, and rolled up 403 of its 460 yards at Thomas on the ground.
Liberty also got back to .500 on Sept. 20, riding a 499-yard performance -- 312 rushing -- in a 49-7 rout of visiting Central Crossing. The Patriots are averaging 186 yards rushing per game and 5.1 per carry on 146 attempts.
Last season, Liberty defeated UA 37-21 in a game that began on a Friday night but was suspended because of lightning and completed the next morning.
A similar situation did not faze the Bears against Thomas last week. They led 10-0 in the first quarter before the game was halted for 59 minutes because of thunderstorms, but used a flurry late in the first quarter and early in the second to take command.
Senior running back Chase Greenlee scored on a 3-yard run to put UA ahead 17-0 late in the opening quarter. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, senior defensive back Jackson Finfrock intercepted Cardinals quarterback Danny Gordon and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Kyle Kaparos connected with senior running back Harrison Heath on a 31-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter, helping the Bears take a 31-0 lead into halftime.
Senior running back Chris Frey added a 23-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and finished with 100 yards on 10 carries, and senior running back Lewis Hughes had a game-high 171 yards rushing, including a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter to extend the Bears' lead to 45-0, on eight carries.
UA's defense, which is led by Frey and Greenlee at linebacker, Finfrock and senior nose guard Noah Spielman, will be looking to contain a Liberty offense led by senior running back Daryian Davies (73 carries, 380 yards, 5 TDs), junior wide receiver Nick Durtschi (27 carries, 277 yards, 2 TDs and 13 catches, 235 yards, 3 TDs), senior quarterback Matt Kessler (54-for-92 passing, 635 yards, 7 TDs and 3 INTs) and senior tackle Luke Callahan, who is a University of Cincinnati recruit.
"We have some very talented players and sometimes they make plays," Liberty coach Steve Hale said earlier this season.
"We've played in some tough environments this year."