The Thomas Worthington High School football team will be looking to add some excitement back in the “Wo-Town Showdown” when it plays host to Kilbourne on Friday, Sept. 15.
Kilbourne has won five consecutive games against Thomas, winning each by 27 points or more, and leads the all-time series 8-1. The Cardinals’ only win came in 2011, when they edged the Wolves 21-20.
But this season, Thomas enters the contest 3-0 and Kilbourne is 1-2.
“We’ve got to win a few of these before the rivalry can heat back up again and get really exciting,” first-year Thomas coach Matt Zingery said. “It’s been one-sided for a while now and our boys would like to change that. Another interesting note is that we have never beaten Kilbourne at home. The win we have (in the series) was at Kilbourne.”
Thomas is coming off a 47-13 win over Groveport on Sept. 8, while Kilbourne fell at Holland Springfield 24-14 that same night.
“We realize this is not a Thomas team we’ve seen in a while,” Kilbourne coach Vince Trombetti said. “They’re playing very well and playing with confidence. Their running attack is very explosive and, defensively, their front seven really get after it. I think it could be a very competitive game, and if our guys think it’ll be like past games against them, we’ll get beat. We need to focus and execute.
“I’m happy for (Thomas). I always root for them. I hope they go 9-1 every season.”
The Cardinals haven’t posted a winning season since going 7-3 in 1999.
Against Groveport, running back DiJahn Davis ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and quarterback Charlie Rhoades was 14-for-17 passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns and had 60 yards rushing, including a 24-yard touchdown, on six carries.
Receiver Khalil Jones had six catches for 115 yards, scored three touchdowns and returned a kickoff 94 yards to set up a touchdown. Jones, who lined up in six different positions against the Cruisers, has 18 receptions for 320 yards and four touchdowns on the season, as well as 115 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries.
“Khalil is very impressive,” Trombetti said. “He can step on the gas and flat-out fly. (Davis) has speed and is a pretty strong runner as well. They’ve got some weapons. They have another receiver (Cameron Ryan) who is 6-(foot)-4 and uses his body well and has good hands.”
The Cardinals’ passing game could be a concern for Kilbourne, which allowed 311 yards passing, but just 90 yards rushing, against Springfield.
“Kilbourne is a good football team with a lot of speed on defense,” Zingery said. “They have safeties (Tyler Ward and Ryan Wesolowski) who look extremely good and a corner (Isaac Morgan) who is outstanding. But their linebackers (Thomas Wilson and Nick Streets) are the heart of their defense and play hard from sideline to sideline.”
Against Springfield, Wilson had 13 tackles and two sacks and linebacker Cole Dyer had nine tackles and two sacks. Defensive lineman Roen McCullough added eight tackles, including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
“I think we gambled too many times going for interceptions (against Springfield) and that led to some big plays against us,” Trombetti said. “We did get some good pressure on their quarterback and sacked him six times.”
Offensively, Kilbourne had 316 total yards, including 255 passing. Quarterback Parker Wereb was 16-for-32 passing for 168 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown to Grayson Timms. Running back Elijah Young rushed for 56 yards on 22 carries and threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Joey McQuade.
Timms finished with nine catches for 57 yards.
Thomas is led defensively by linemen Josh Keese and Lou Dykstra, linebackers Habib Bondu, Charlie Kneessi and Layne Burns and defensive backs Vincent Eguakun and Fletch Curran.