Westerville South High School football coach Rocky Pentello was pleased with his team’s defensive performance against a run-oriented offense in its opener.
He expects the Wildcats’ pass coverage to be tested when they travel to play Clayton Northmont on Friday, Sept. 6.
“Clayton Northmont is typically more of a throwing team, so we’ve got to be ready to slow down both their passing attack (and running game),” Pentello said. “This will be a different kind of challenge for us.”
South defeated Groveport 48-20 on Aug. 30, limiting the Cruisers to 180 yards rushing on 44 carries.
Northmont lost to Dayton Thurgood Marshall 32-22 in its opener Aug. 30.
Quarterback Graham Oberer threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ryan Smith and scored on a 3-yard run. The Thunderbolts’ other score came on a 7-yard run by running back Josh Baker.
Other key players on offense for Northmont are offensive lineman Josh Perry, who is a University of Toledo recruit, and wide receiver Isaiah Williams, who had 54 receptions for 719 yards and three touchdowns last season.
South’s defense forced four turnovers against Groveport. Three of those turnovers – an interception by cornerback Charles Thigpen and fumble recoveries by linebackers Ethan Frank and Shuron Howard – set up touchdowns.
“We’re pretty good at forcing turnovers and our offense feeds off our momentum when we take the ball from the other team,” Howard said. “We work on pressuring the quarterback and stripping the ball while we tackle every day in practice.”
South’s offense had a balanced attack against Groveport, finishing with 292 yards passing and 233 rushing.
In his first varsity start at quarterback, Timmy Bates was 19-for-28 passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 46 yards and two scores on four carries.
Running back Darien Miller rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, wide receiver Torrodd Carter had nine catches for 127 yards and a touchdown and tight end Darryl Long had four receptions for 99 yards and a score.
Northmont’s defense is led by two Division I recruits in end Terry Ramsey and cornerback Josh Blanton. The Thunderbolts’ secondary also features D.J. Hickman (5 interceptions in 2012) and Williams (4 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries in 2012).
“Timmy Bates gives us a dual threat at quarterback that we haven’t had in a while,” Pentello said. “Darien Miller’s an outstanding running back and our receivers are explosive, so we just want to get the ball in their hands and give them room to make plays.”