Week 4 Preview
Big Walnut at Olentangy
Eagles (0-3) <> Braves (3-0)
The Olentangy and Big Walnut high school football teams appear to be heading in drastically different directions entering their OCC-Capital Division opener Friday, Sept. 20.
While running their offense almost to perfection in the first half Sept. 13, the Braves improved to 3-0 with a 48-21 win at Lexington. Olentangy amassed 542 total yards -- 266 on the ground and 276 in the air -- ran 88 total plays and led 31-0 at halftime.
Big Walnut fell to 0-3 with a 34-0 loss against St. Charles on Sept. 13. This is the Golden Eagles' worst start since 1996, when they lost their first four games and finished 2-8.
But according to both coaches, none of that lessens the importance of the latest installment of a rivalry that dates to 1954.
"Quite a few people have told me how big this game is," first-year Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. "It's probably a thing where our kids don't like them very much and their kids don't like us. We'll embrace the rivalry, but the bottom line is it's the next football game we have to win."
Every Braves player saw action against Lexington, when Olentangy led 48-0 early in the fourth quarter before the second- and third-team defenses allowed three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Noah Durst was 21-for-32 passing for 266 yards and four scores, and senior running back Hayden Hunter rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Hunter also caught touchdown passes of 1 and 64 yards from Durst.
St. Charles dominated Big Walnut in similar fashion, scoring all its points in the first quarter. The Cardinals took advantage of three lost fumbles and outgained the Eagles 352-180.
Junior quarterback Jordan Wall was 13-for-24 passing for 98 yards and an interception. Other top players on offense for Big Walnut include junior running back Christian Johnson, senior running back Alec Eisnnicher, senior receiver Conner Fry and linemen Austin Hale, David Hernandez and Trey Huffer.
They'll have to get past a Braves defense led by senior linebackers Tim Feasel and Kevin Sherry, junior linemen Jake Didion and Connor Slade, junior safety Nick Tarpey and sophomore tackle Chris Crumb.
Senior linebacker Chris Thomas anchors the Eagles' defense. He had a team-high 7.5 tackles last week, seven of them solo.
The all-time series between Big Walnut and Olentangy, which are located less than 10 miles apart, is tied at 24 wins apiece. Olentangy snapped a two-game losing streak to the Eagles last year with a 40-24 win.
More important to both teams is taking the first step toward an OCC-Capital championship. Olentangy was second in the league last year at 6-1, behind New Albany (7-0) and ahead of Big Walnut (4-3), Olentangy Orange (4-3), Mount Vernon (3-4), Delaware (2-5), Watkins Memorial (2-5) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
Worthington Kilbourne has replaced Watkins Memorial in the OCC-Capital.
"Coming into the season, we have some talk about games coming up," Eagles coach Joe Weaver said. "Olentangy is always the game the kids know is (on the schedule)."