Gahanna next test for Reynoldsburg
Through the season's first five weeks, there might not have been a tougher team to run the ball against statistically throughout central Ohio than the Gahanna Lincoln High School football team.
After holding DeSales to 37 yards on 50 attempts in their 13-10 triple-overtime win Aug. 24, the Lions gave up 145 yards rushing in a 45-7 win over Upper Arlington on Aug. 31, although 78 of those yards came on the Golden Bears' only touchdown.
Since that time, Gahanna's defense, which is led by linebacker Mitchell Rowell, nose guard Granyl Smith and a speedy group of backs including Emile Camm, has allowed a combined 94 yards rushing on 72 carries.
The Lions are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division but could be in for their biggest test to date in terms of stopping the run when they travel to Reynoldsburg on Friday, Sept. 28, for a league contest.
Raiders senior running back Kumar Collins was sidelined with an injury in wins over New Albany (10-9 on Aug. 24) and Grove City (26-16 on Sept. 14) and was a non-factor in a 61-14 loss to Findlay on Aug. 31, but he rushed for a season-high 144 yards on 30 carries in a 21-20 loss to visiting Pickerington Central in a league game last weekend. Collins rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Other options in Reynoldsburg's ground game include Dionta Brown and A.J. Mitchell, who rushed for 172 and 136 yards, respectively, against Grove City.
The Raiders, who are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league, also feature Mykel Traylor-Bennett at wide receiver. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior has verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati.
"They ran the ball extremely well (against Pickerington Central)," said Lions coach John Snoad, whose team beat the Raiders 33-0 last season. "I think they're fast and physical and I think they're really good. They're really an aggressive team. They're in the second year of a program (under coach Buddy White) and their running game is extremely strong. They're going to be the best team we've seen so far.
"We've been able to build some depth on defense and we play very fast and very physical. Our run defense is the strength of our defense and I think our pass defense is improved."
Reynoldsburg held Pickerington Central to 12 plays from scrimmage during the first half and led 20-7 early in the fourth quarter before the Tigers rallied. With the Raiders leading 20-14, Central quarterback Colby Simkins threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Andrew Meyer with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining to tie the game at 20.
Play then was suspended Sept. 21 because of lightning with the extra point pending. The game resumed the next morning, with Central's Devon McMillin making the extra point to give the Tigers a one-point lead. Central's defense stopped the Raiders on the game's final possession.
Reynoldsburg also allowed a pair of late touchdowns against Grove City and gave up 494 total yards to Findlay. Daquan Williams (LB), Emmanuel Beal (DL), Jeff Jones (DL) and Traylor-Bennett (DB) have led the Raiders' defense.
Gahanna running back Geoffrey Helms II rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Alec Tuohy was 10-for-14 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-6 win over Newark on Sept. 21.
Tuohy is 65-for-110 passing for 690 yards with eight touchdowns on the season.
Snoad has been pleased with an offensive line that is comprised of Collin Blaney and Ben Foley at tackle, A.J. Butler at center and Frog Fenton and Mitchell Farkas at guard with Peyton Ross at tight end.
The Raiders seemed to be on track for their first win against Central since 2001. They led 20-14 and were on the verge of another score when Collins was stopped for a 1-yard loss on fourth down from the Tigers' 2-yard line. The Tigers closed out the scoring on their next possession.
"We've got Gahanna (this) week and they're undefeated, so we don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves," White said. "We've got to keep preparing to play football. We decided not to go for the field goal because we figured that if we didn't get it that our defense would get it done for us."