The Hilliard Bradley High School football team has posted shutouts in its past two games, but coach Mike LoParo said his defense faces a daunting challenge when the Jaguars travel to Westerville South on Friday, Sept. 27, for an OCC-Cardinal Division contest.
Bradley defeated Dublin Jerome 20-0 on Sept. 20 in its league opener to improve to 2-2 overall after beating Olentangy Orange 44-0 on Sept. 13.
South, which employs a spread offense, had 174 yards passing and 171 rushing in a 50-7 victory over Canal Winchester in its league opener Sept. 20, as the Wildcats improved to 3-1 overall.
Quarterback Timmy Bates led the way for South, completing 12 of 21 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Darien Miller rushed for 142 yards and two scores on 26 carries and wide receiver Torrodd Carter had five catches for 74 yards.
"South is what it always is," LoParo said. "(The Wildcats) have a good quarterback and a big, physical, talented line in front of him. And their running back is one of the best we have seen on film.
"They make it tough because they have so many weapons. You can't choose. You have to be really as sound as you can on defense."
South had one turnover and four penalties for 81 yards against Canal Winchester after being plagued by turnovers and penalties and totaling 31 points in its previous two games.
Bradley's defense, which includes cornerback Daniel Tepe, safeties Ryan Reffitt and Walker Hamilton, linebackers Cameron Hart and Zack Popovec and linemen Ryan Beveridge and Skylar Hartley, forced four turnovers against Jerome, including an interception by Hamilton.
"Our offensive coordinator, Chad Williams, does a good job of keeping our offense balanced with our run-to-pass ratio, and we have some good athletes who can make big plays," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "We just need to continue to cut down on our penalties and turnovers because we've been able to score when we don't make many mistakes."
Against Jerome, Bradley's offense was led by running back T.J. Martin, who ran 18 times for 82 yards, and quarterback Tommy Horn, who rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and was 2-for-4 passing for 44 yards.
Reffitt, who also plays wide receiver, had both receptions and wide receiver Matt Johnson had five carries for 50 yards.
South's defense is coming off a strong performance, as it limited Canal Winchester to 48 total yards, including 8 yards rushing on 30 carries.
The Wildcats' defense, which is led by linemen Curtis Mitchell, safety Trey Harden and linebacker Kamaree Walden, forced three turnovers and allowed only 168 total yards in a 17-14 win at Grove City on Sept. 13.
"Our defense has continued to improve and we'll need to be even better this Friday because Hilliard Bradley looks pretty good," Pentello said. "They mix it up well with their spread offense, so we have to keep them covered across the board."