The Worthington Kilbourne High School football team made a strong debut in the OCC-Capital Division, rolling to a 42-7 win over host Delaware on Sept. 20.
The key now for the Wolves, who are 3-1 overall and are riding a three-game winning streak, is to continue performing at that level.
"We ran for 367 yards as a team and it was a balanced attack in the rain, which is even better," coach Vince Trombetti said.
"We were able to spread it around and get a lot of people involved. We had one fumble and that was in the fourth quarter after we had our subs in the game."
Next up for Kilbourne is another OCC-Capital game against visiting Mount Vernon on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Yellow Jackets also are 3-1 overall and are coming off a 37-15 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 21 in their league opener. They are averaging 38 points per game, with their lowest point total coming in a 35-26 loss to Sparta Highland on Sept. 6.
"They have a very good running attack with a terrific quarterback (Ryan Fitzgerald) and a great running back (J.D. Orr)," Trombetti said. "Traditionally, they have tough, hard-nosed kids and they play physical for 48 minutes. They've been in some high-scoring games, so they must be executing well offensively."
Fitzgerald and Orr operate behind an offensive line that consists of Jeep Cochran (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), Alec Curts (6-4, 236), Chase Gallagher (6-0, 330), James Wright (5-10, 220) and Jacob Tilton (6-0, 300).
Logan Rhea and Rain Wiggand are the Yellow Jackets' top wide receivers.
Against Franklin Heights, Orr rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and Fitzgerald had 117 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Fitzgerald, a transfer from Newark Catholic, threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns against Highland.
"Although we've played well against the run, the old adage is our best defense is when our offense is on the field and we're chewing up yards and the clock," Trombetti said. "If we focus and execute and secure the ball at contact, we have a chance to be successful. It's a simplistic approach that works."
Mount Vernon is allowing an average of 28.3 points. Key players on its defense are Josh Edwards and George Walker at linebacker, Curts and Kyle Stump on the line and Rhea and Wiggand in the secondary.
According to Trombetti, Kilbourne's defense received a boost from the return of lineman Gavin Elifritz, who had sidelined with a foot injury.
"We got him back and with Connor Silva playing real steady at the other tackle, it'll be a great combination," Trombetti said. "People had been running away from D.J. Freer on one (end), but then Mason Rigio has really stepped up on the other (end). Having Gavin back solidifies the line and should provide a better pass rush to help our pass coverage. I think we have a special defense, with great linebacker play and a strong line."
Against Delaware, defensive back Seth Hill had five tackles, broke up two passes and combined for a sack. He also set a program record by returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown.
According to Trombetti, it was Kilbourne's first punt return for a touchdown in 16 years and broke the previous record of 60 yards, which had been set by Ryan Sprague against Whitehall in 1997.
Hill also has the distinction of having scored Kilbourne's last touchdown on a fumble return and its last touchdown on a kickoff return. He accomplished both scores in a 34-14 win over Hilliard Bradley last year, returning the fumble 83 yards and the kickoff return 91 yards.
"He's a weapon every time he touches the ball and he's a playmaker everywhere on the field," Trombetti said.
Cardinals getting set to face Cougars
Thomas has been alternating wins and losses and will be looking to move above .500 for the third time this season when it travels to play Westland on Friday, Sept. 27, in an OCC-Central contest.
The Cardinals dropped to 2-2 overall with a 45-7 loss to Upper Arlington on Sept. 20 in their league opener.
"We made a lot of mistakes that really cost us and you can't be competitive with a team like Upper Arlington when you make that many errors," coach Scott Gordon said. "Worse than the mistakes, I wasn't happy with (the players') effort."
UA scored on its first three possessions, holding a 17-0 lead after the first quarter and extending its advantage to 31-0 by halftime.
"We opened the game with the ball and completed a pass for a first down but fumbled it away," Gordon said.
"We held them to a (33-yard) field goal and it was like a win for us. We dropped a pass that would've given us a first down in our second possession and we had a misalignment on defense and they threw for a (44-yard) touchdown on us, so we more or less spotted them 10 points.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. They returned a deflected pass for a touchdown to make it 24-0. We suffered by not catching passes. We had defensive breakdowns. We had very little go right."
Running back Tony Harvard led the Cardinals' offense, rushing for 113 yards on 21 carries, including a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to close the game's scoring.
"Tony continues to run hard and he probably had 60 yards in gains nullified by penalties as well," Gordon said. "I thought James Peters did a great job at center against (UA nose guard) Noah Spielman, who is a Division I prospect.
"Also, Ben Frazier is really booming some punts to help with field position. He's a great weapon as punter and kicker."
Westland fell to 1-3 overall with a 64-6 loss to Marysville in its league opener Sept. 21.
The Cougars have been outscored 142-41, with their lone win coming against Columbus East, 28-12 on Sept. 13.
"They're a young club and they're having a rough time," Gordon said. "They lost a bunch of players to graduation and transfers. We want to go out there, correct our mistakes and play hard and play to our ability. We've got to execute better."