As his team was celebrating its first win of the season Sept. 7, Dublin Scioto High School senior football player Jaden Penn began focusing on “Jerome week.”
The Irish will play host to the Celtics on Friday, Sept. 15, in the OCC-Cardinal Division opener for both squads.
“It’s called ‘Jerome week,’ ” Penn said. “We’re green and we try not to wear green. ‘Jerome week’ is a big week for us. I’ve played with them since I was in (Dublin Football League). They always have a good team. They’re going to be disciplined, but we just have to have better athletes than them.”
Scioto improved to 1-2 with a 51-21 win over visiting Big Walnut on Sept. 7, while Jerome fell to 1-2 with a 31-7 loss at Olentangy Orange on Sept. 8.
The Celtics lead the all-time series with the Irish 5-4 and have won the last three matchups, which was a point of emphasis for Scioto coach Karl Johnson during the postgame huddle against Big Walnut.
“We have to be able to handle success,” Johnson said. “We said we were not evaluating our season on the first two games, we’re not evaluating our season on the first three games. We won one game. We have to keep getting better. Every game is important and there are certain games that are special for the kids. This is a game that is going to be very special to them.”
Scioto was aided in its first win by the return of several key players from injuries, including running back Kenyon Pannell, who rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries after missing the first two games with an ankle injury.
Quarterback Kyron Rogers, who missed the first two games with a broken hand, completed 11 of 15 passes for 141 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to Penn in the fourth quarter to close the scoring.
“They have their major pieces back and that’s huge for them,” Jerome coach Bob Gecewich said. “That’s something we have to prep for. We’re trending in the opposite direction with some injuries, but at the end of the day, our kids practice varsity and they need to be ready for varsity.”
Jerome and Orange were scoreless after one quarter before the Pioneers took control with 21 consecutive points in the second quarter.
The Celtics’ lone score was an 82-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hayden Schell to wide receiver Trey Ballengee in the third quarter.
Schell completed 11 of 22 passes for 186 yards, Ballengee had six catches for 140 yards and running back Robert Cope rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries.
The Celtics played without wide receiver Max Darrow, who missed the game with a collarbone injury.
Gecewich, who is 2-0 against Scioto, is looking forward to his third contest against the Irish.
“It’s a neighborhood game,” he said. “We talk about it every year. If you can’t get excited for this, then pack your stuff and go home.”
Jerome lineman Jackson Harris said the game always provides a little extra incentive.
“I know Jeremy Erickson, he’s one of the middle linebackers, and Ben Gawronski is one of their tight ends,” Harris said. “I’ve known them since I was little, so it’s going to be a fun, intra-city rivalry. We’ll be hitting each other, but we’ll have fun, we’ll respect each other. It will be a good game. … We consider this rivalry week.”