Wolves (4-1 overall, 2-0 in OCC-Capital) Golden Eagles (0-5 overall, 0-2 in OCC-Capital)
The Worthington Kilbourne High School football team heads into its OCC-Capital Division game Friday, Oct. 4, at Big Walnut riding a four-game winning streak.
While much of the Wolves' success can be attributed to their defense, which is allowing an average of 6.5 points per game, they also have been strong on special teams this season.
"We always talk about how there are three phases to every game: offense, defense, and special teams," coach Vince Trombetti said. "We have to win at least two of the three to have a shot at winning the game. Many teams do not put a lot of effort into their special teams play. We do."
Senior Taylor Wilson, who starts at linebacker, handles the punting duties and was averaging 41.3 yards per punt through four games.
"He has been a huge asset," Trombetti said. "Any time we get the chance to tilt the field or get us out of a hole of bad field position, he has gotten the job done."
Wilson, who has been one of several defensive standouts for the Wolves, doesn't take punting as his "second job."
"I enjoy punting, although I'd prefer that we never had to punt," he said. "I know I can help our defense out and give the team a morale boost if I can do my job well and flip the field. The further a team has to go to score on us, the better our chances are of creating a turnover or forcing them to punt it back to us."
Kilbourne's primary punt returner is senior Seth Hill, a slotback and defensive back who returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in a 42-7 win over Delaware on Sept. 20. It was Kilbourne's first punt return for a touchdown in 16 years.
"Seth is a threat every time he touches the ball and he's a playmaker everywhere on the field," Trombetti said.
Hill also is the last Kilbourne player to score on both a fumble return and a kickoff return. He accomplished both in a 34-14 win over Hilliard Bradley last season, returning the fumble 83 yards and the kickoff 91 yards.
In addition to a solid return game, Kilbourne boasts solid place-kicking. Junior Grant Chesser handles the extra-point and field-goal attempts and sophomore Josh Stoner handles kickoffs.
Through four games, Chesser was 18-for-19 on extra-point attempts and also had a field goal.
"Our timing has been very good," Chesser said. "I've got the best long-snapper in (junior) Liam McCullough and the best holder in (senior) Josh Happ. It feels great to be part of such an awesome special teams and we're going to have a special year."
Chesser said he is working to improve his field-goal range and has made 45-yarders in practice.
He said he has made some from 50 yards with no pads on and no defense.
"Grant is pretty consistent from 37 yards," Trombetti said. "When we get around the 20-yard line, we're feeling confident we have some (amount) of points. That is pretty much our thought process."
Stoner was averaging 53.7 yards per kickoff through four games, but Trombetti said that average would be higher if not for certain situations in which the Wolves did not go with the standard kickoff strategy.
"We have him do some squib kicks and parachute kicks, which are shorter kicks," Trombetti said.
"I'm not sure exactly how many touchbacks he has, but it is a huge weapon to have a kicker who can put it in the end zone. Not only are you hindering your opponent's starting field position, but you don't have to worry about someone breaking off a long kickoff return against you, either."