The Hilliard Bradley High School football team will again reign as the community champion after shutting down host Darby 21-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division openers for both teams.
It is the second year in a row that the Jaguars have accomplished the feat, which helped propel them to their first playoff appearance last season.
“I thought our defense was outstanding tonight,” Bradley coach Michael LoParo said. “Everyone did their jobs and our linebackers really got after it. I thought (middle linebacker) Cannon Blauser stood out, making plays all over the field.”
Bradley improved to 4-0 overall and Darby fell to 2-2.
“We had trouble blocking them on all levels and this is what happens when you don’t block well,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “But we’ll get things worked out. Defensively, I thought we played pretty well and limited their big plays for the most part. But they still made a few of those and they hurt us.”
Darby was limited to 176 total yards, with 49 of those coming on a scoring run by Canyon Uphouse in the third quarter that trimmed the Jaguars’ lead to 14-7. Uphouse added a 44-yard run on the game’s final play to finish with 126 yards on 11 carries.
After the touchdown by Uphouse, Bradley answered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by quarterback Josh Stewart throwing a fade pattern to Zach Hummel for an 11-yard touchdown.
“Josh settled down after a period in the first half where everything was sailing on him,” LoParo said. “He did a good job after we got that corrected.”
Stewart was 23-for-37 passing for 273 yards. He also connected with Hummel on a 9-yard pass to begin the scoring with 4:24 left in the second quarter. Stewart then directed a two-minute offense that moved the Jaguars 69 yards in eight plays and scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-0 at halftime.
Stewart’s top targets were the 6-foot-5 Taylor and receiver Daevon Anderson. Taylor had 12 catches for 96 yards, and Anderson finished with 109 yards on six receptions.
“We were in decent position defensively quite a few times and (Taylor) just made plays over top of us,” Santagata said. “They have some good weapons. They’re a very good team.”
The Panthers had 51 total yards at halftime.
“Everybody did their jobs and we came out and took care of business,” Blauser said. “We were confident that if we came in and played well, we would rule Hilliard again. I think we’re in good position to have another great season.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final HILLIARD BRADLEY 0 14 7 0 21 HILLIARD DARBY
0 0 7 0 7
HB—Hummel 9 pass from Stewart (Castro kick)
HB—Stewart 3 run (Castro kick)
HD—Uphouse 49 run (Sawicki kick)
HB—Hummel 11 pass from Stewart (Castro kick)