The Reynoldsburg High School football team’s young defense struggled to stop New Albany’s rushing attack in its opener Aug. 30.
The Raiders hope their next task Thursday, Sept. 5 – handling Hilliard Bradley’s veteran offensive line – proves to be an easier one.
The Jaguars feature center Skylar Hartley, who has verbally committed to Buffalo, and fellow seniors Zac Davis, Josias Cruceta, Austin Miller and Ryan Beveridge as returning starters on their offensive line.
While the Raiders gave up 362 yards rushing and lost to New Albany 38-20, Bradley quarterback Tommy Horn passed for just 34 yards and was intercepted twice during a 21-7 loss to Marysville on Aug. 30.
“As a team, we feel like our offensive line is going to be very crucial to having success,” Hartley said. “We’ve based the offense around the offensive line.
“Tommy’s an outstanding playmaker. If something goes wrong we’re there to pick him back up. He’s an unbelievable leader.”
Reynoldsburg’s defensive front, which features senior lineman Corey Beal and senior linebacker Solomon Grace, gave up 255 yards and three touchdowns to New Albany running back Christo Semertsidis. He was filling in for Leslie Anokye, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season but was out with an injury, and accumulated nearly all his yardage in the first half before also getting hurt.
Senior strong safety Tyrek Pugh is the most experienced player in the secondary for the Raiders.
“Guys have been coming together because we know we don’t have as many athletes as we had last year,” Pugh said. “We lost a lot of good players from last year, but we have a lot of strong football players and guys are playing as a team.”
Bradley gave up more than 200 yards passing but intercepted two passes from Marysville quarterback Matt Mulholland. The Jaguars also gave up 97 yards rushing to the Monarchs’ Aron Mowery.
Reynoldsburg’s David Moore rushed for 111 yards and one touchdown and Zack Mehan had 75 yards and two touchdowns rushing against New Albany.
Pugh believes his team’s offense can help compensate for its defensive inexperience.
“We always take pride in our defense, but our offense has come a long way,” Pugh said. “We have some real threats in the backfield at running back and with Jordan Aekins at quarterback.”