The Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne high school football teams no doubt have spent time this week dissecting film of their opening losses in an attempt to improve before taking the field for their latest showdown.
Wolves coach Vince Trombetti and first-year Cardinals coach Rodney Hopkins both said the better part of their preparation for their game Friday, Sept. 5, at Thomas would focus on their own team rather than their rival.
On Aug. 29, Kilbourne lost to Dublin Scioto 17-14 at home in the Battle of Hard Road and Thomas lost to host Hilliard Bradley 43-0.
"Losing to Scioto left a bad taste in our mouths," Trombetti said. "So rather than getting all lathered up about Thomas this week, our first goal is to learn from what we did wrong last week and fix those mistakes."
Kilbourne leads the all-time series 5-1, with Thomas' lone win coming in 2011 (21-20). The Wolves won 37-3 in 2012 and 44-7 last season.
"We've got to focus on the basics and not necessarily who we are playing," Hopkins said. "Emotions can't carry you to victory. In fact, they can get in the way. You can't get so pumped up that you lose your fundamental principles.
"If we can keep the focus on doing what we need to do, the kids' emotions will come forth and take over during the game anyway. But they have to be emotions mixed with execution level and the mental and physical preparations we make during the week."
Hopkins served as receivers coach for Kilbourne last season, while Kilbourne offensive coordinator Mike Cottrill and Wolves running backs coach Eric Brack were on the Cardinals' staff last year.
Trombetti was pleased with his team's defensive effort against Scioto, especially when considering that Kilbourne needed to replace eight starters from last season, when it allowed an average of 12.3 points per game.
Scioto had 218 total yards, including 104 rushing on 48 carries.
"We thought early on we'd be holding our breath with the defense and feeling pretty good with the offense," Trombetti said. "But I was very proud of our defense. We reached all of our defensive game goals by a long shot, but we turned the ball over three times, we dropped passes and had receivers running the wrong routes. Our turnovers afforded Scioto 10 more plays than we had, or three more possessions."
Against Scioto, senior middle linebacker Luke Hackathorne had 22 tackles and senior strong safety Dom Brown had 14.
"Our linemen kept our second-level tacklers free from blocks, and that's their main job," Trombetti said. "(Senior defensive end) Darius Turner (5-foot-10, 171 pounds) is undersized, but he played a whale of a game and played with so much heart. He had a great game."
On offense, running back Isaiah Young ran for 79 yards on 22 carries, wide receiver Dakota Holtzclaw had six catches for 73 yards and quarterback Griffin Dahn was 15-for-31 passing for 143 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Hopkins, who replaced Scott Gordon as coach, switched Thomas' offensive and defensive schemes in an effort to implement a more physical approach. The Cardinals, who have only six seniors with previous varsity experience, went from a spread offense and a 4-3 defense to a flexbone triple-option offense and a 50-shade defense.
"We were perfect in our ball-handling and we moved the ball and stayed on schedule, with the exception of penalties," Hopkins said. "We had four or five penalties and I think three of them were drive-killers. I was extremely pleased with our first possession of the second half. We took the ball and marched 14 plays and ate up all but 17 seconds of the third quarter. Unfortunately, we missed a field goal at the end of the possession. I thought John Lee (RB/DB) played very well on both sides of the ball.
"Defensively, we got hurt by several big plays when we weren't on the same page. Looking at the film, we played well when everyone did their jobs. When we had one or two guys who didn't do their jobs, it led to big plays against us. We have got to be on the same page."