Week 1 Recap

Olentangy 38, Westerville South 6

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A coach can practice his players throughout August, have two full contact scrimmages and watch video until the whites of his eyes turn red, but he often doesn’t know what kind of hand he has until the games count.

Mark Solis of Olentangy found himself holding a full house last night.

The Braves got two interceptions from Seth O’Neill, a goal-line stand and a dazzling pitch-catch show from quarterback Deeb Haber and receiver Drew Batt in ripping Westerville South 38-6 in a season opener before a near-capacity crowd.

Haber completed 16 of 27 passes for 307 yards and one touchdown. Batt caught seven passes for 225 yards and one touchdown.

“We had our kids prepared for this — I loved our conditioning,’’ Solis said. “I told the kids after the game that this win was all about conditioning. We also had tough scrimmages with Canton McKinley and Strongsville. But we’re not satisfied. We have a lot of work to do.’’

The Braves were so dominant that they drove 80 yards for a touchdown with 7:58 left in the third quarter to make it 35-0 despite being penalized four times.

The Wildcats could not handle Haber and Batt, and a lot of that had to do with their sense of timing and the Braves physical offensive line. 

“That first half tempo makes it hard for teams to prepare for us,’’ Batt said. “Honestly, the guys up front were protecting Deeb. He had all the time in the world. And I got in the zones.’’

Haber often would roll left or right in the pocket and patiently wait for his receivers to shake free.

“My receivers were flying to the ball,’’ he said. “If they jam our receivers they have to run right past them. We’re more confident as a team this year all around. We listen to the coaches. We didn’t make the playoffs last year, and we know we have doubters. We’re a different type of Braves team.’’ 

Westerville South’s many mistakes made it easy for Olentangy. The tone was set on its first possession with two false start penalties, a bad center snap that resulted in an 11-yard loss and a 16-yard punt.

The Braves scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, beginning with a 1-yard run by Chris Crumb six plays after the shanked punt.

O’Neill returned his second interception to the Wildcats 35-yard line. Five plays later, Batt caught a 14-yard touchdown pass on second-and-goal to make it 14-0.

“We had great coverage,’’ O’Neill said. “I pressed the receivers and the quarterback didn’t see me. I think our entire defense played well. They made a lot of mistakes, but we created a lot of those.’’

Westerville South again couldn’t get out of its own way when it was stopped on downs at its 34-yard line.

The Wildcats put themselves into position to get the ball right back, but an offside penalty on third-and-five gave the Braves a first down. On the next play, Haber patiently waited for Batt to slant across the field for a 60-yard completion to the 1.

On the next play, O’Neill ran for a 4-yard touchdown out of the wildcat formation to make it 21-0 with 23.3 seconds left in the first quarter.

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