Week 5 Preview
Mount Vernon at Worthington Kilbourne
Yellow Jackets (3-1, 1-0) <> Wolves (3-1, 1-0)
The Worthington Kilbourne High School football team made a strong debut in the OCC-Capital Division, rolling to a 42-7 win over host Delaware on Sept. 20.
The key now for the Wolves, who are 3-1 overall and are riding a three-game winning streak, is to continue performing at that level.
"We ran for 367 yards as a team and it was a balanced attack in the rain, which is even better," coach Vince Trombetti said.
"We were able to spread it around and get a lot of people involved. We had one fumble and that was in the fourth quarter after we had our subs in the game."
Next up for Kilbourne is another OCC-Capital game against visiting Mount Vernon on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Yellow Jackets also are 3-1 overall and are coming off a 37-15 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 21 in their league opener. They are averaging 38 points per game, with their lowest point total coming in a 35-26 loss to Sparta Highland on Sept. 6.
"They have a very good running attack with a terrific quarterback (Ryan Fitzgerald) and a great running back (J.D. Orr)," Trombetti said. "Traditionally, they have tough, hard-nosed kids and they play physical for 48 minutes. They've been in some high-scoring games, so they must be executing well offensively."
Fitzgerald and Orr operate behind an offensive line that consists of Jeep Cochran (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), Alec Curts (6-4, 236), Chase Gallagher (6-0, 330), James Wright (5-10, 220) and Jacob Tilton (6-0, 300).
Logan Rhea and Rain Wiggand are the Yellow Jackets' top wide receivers.
Against Franklin Heights, Orr rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and Fitzgerald had 117 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Fitzgerald, a transfer from Newark Catholic, threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns against Highland.
"Although we've played well against the run, the old adage is our best defense is when our offense is on the field and we're chewing up yards and the clock," Trombetti said. "If we focus and execute and secure the ball at contact, we have a chance to be successful. It's a simplistic approach that works."
Mount Vernon is allowing an average of 28.3 points. Key players on its defense are Josh Edwards and George Walker at linebacker, Curts and Kyle Stump on the line and Rhea and Wiggand in the secondary.
According to Trombetti, Kilbourne's defense received a boost from the return of lineman Gavin Elifritz, who had sidelined with a foot injury.
"We got him back and with Connor Silva playing real steady at the other tackle, it'll be a great combination," Trombetti said. "People had been running away from D.J. Freer on one (end), but then Mason Rigio has really stepped up on the other (end). Having Gavin back solidifies the line and should provide a better pass rush to help our pass coverage. I think we have a special defense, with great linebacker play and a strong line."
Against Delaware, defensive back Seth Hill had five tackles, broke up two passes and combined for a sack. He also set a program record by returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown.
According to Trombetti, it was Kilbourne's first punt return for a touchdown in 16 years and broke the previous record of 60 yards, which had been set by Ryan Sprague against Whitehall in 1997.
Hill also has the distinction of having scored Kilbourne's last touchdown on a fumble return and its last touchdown on a kickoff return. He accomplished both scores in a 34-14 win over Hilliard Bradley last year, returning the fumble 83 yards and the kickoff return 91 yards.
"He's a weapon every time he touches the ball and he's a playmaker everywhere on the field," Trombetti said.