When the Westerville South High School football team plays host Friday, Sept. 5, to Gahanna Lincoln, each plans to be more focused on its game plan rather than that of its opponent.
That's because both teams are attempting to bounce back from lopsided opening losses Aug. 29.
Gahanna was routed by host Huber Heights Wayne 40-0 while being outgained 310-114 in total yards.
"Wayne was a tough team to open up with and Westerville South isn't going to be any easier," Lions coach Bruce Ward said. "Westerville South's capable of doing a lot of things well, but we can't worry about what they do best because we still have to clean up what we're doing. Our effort and will to compete is there, but we've got to do a much better job of executing on the field in this game."
South fell 38-6 at Olentangy, as the Braves outgained the Wildcats 406-246.
"We can't worry about Gahanna because we have to get ourselves going first," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "Olentangy's a very good team and they played well, but we didn't play well at all. We have to show improvement in every area and we have to be more disciplined on every play."
The Lions will face a South 4-3 stack defense that allowed 234 passing yards and 122 rushing yards in the opener.
Running back Derek Marcum had 10 carries for 62 yards against Wayne. The Lions rushed for 104 yards on 27 attempts but turned the ball over four times.
Both of Gahanna's quarterbacks struggled, as Ronald Robinson was 4-for-8 for 9 yards with an interception and Mason Blancett was 2-for-6 for 1 yard with an interception.
"We just need to be more consistent while cutting down on our turnovers," Ward said. "We have two good quarterbacks and two good running backs (including Vasean Davis), and we're trying to figure out how to best use them."
Safety Daylan Haynie had an interception in one of the few highlights for South against Olentangy.
"Gahanna's bigger than us, so we need to be quick and have everyone take care of their assignments," Pentello said. "Our defense needs to stay focused and not panic like we did in the first game. It seems like we had someone breaking down on every play."
South's offense gained more yards than Gahanna in the opener, but the Wildcats also committed four turnovers.
Quarterback Lincoln Flood was 10-for-26 passing with four interceptions and a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver Abu Daramy, who had seven catches for 96 yards.
Running back Devan Wade rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries.
"We just can't make mistakes the way we did against Olentangy," Pentello said. "It wasn't just the turnovers. We were jumping offside and snapping the ball all over the place. We need to narrow things down and get our kids to focus better."
Leading Gahanna's defense in tackles against Wayne were lineman Marq Williams (7), back Jake Chobany (4) and linebacker Blake Baker (4).
"Westerville South has the same caliber of athletes as Wayne, with a big line and athletic players on the perimeter," Ward said. "A lot of times, teams make their biggest improvements from week one to two, and we've got to tighten up our defense in a hurry to get ready for them."