Despite following up three consecutive wins with back-to-back losses, the Thomas Worthington High School football team remains upbeat.

“The boys came in to practice and were in a positive mood,” said coach Matt Zingery, whose team lost to Hilliard Bradley 31-17 on Sept. 22 after falling to Kilbourne 26-25 in overtime on Sept. 15. “They realize we didn’t play our best football the past two weeks and still had opportunities to win both games.

“We led Bradley (17-14) at half and it was a one-score game until the final minutes despite us making four turnovers in the second half. We just haven’t been able to close the past few weeks. We’ve done enough to stay in the games, but haven’t made enough plays or executed well enough to finish.”

Thomas, which is 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, will look to close stronger against visiting Dublin Jerome on Friday, Sept. 29.

The Celtics are 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the league after beating Hilliard Darby 21-0 on Sept. 22.

Jerome was opportunistic against Darby, which held advantages in plays from scrimmage (68-33), first downs (19-6), total yards (273-164) and time of possession (32 minutes, 52 seconds to 15:08). The Celtics forced four turnovers.

The Panthers fumbled on the second play of the game at their own 15-yard line and Jerome capitalized when quarterback Hayden Schell threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Trey Ballengee. Schell made it 14-0 when he burst free for a 59-yard touchdown run.

Late in the first half, Darby marched downfield, only to fumble in the red zone. Jerome’s Wil Intihar scooped up the ball and scored on a 92-yard return.

“If you shut out a Darby team, it’s impressive no matter how you do it,” Zingery said. “They took advantage of some of the turnovers they forced and we haven’t valued ball possession the past two weeks, so that’s a concern.”

Jerome beat Dublin Scioto 21-17 in its league opener Sept. 15. The Celtics scored the winning touchdown in the final three minutes, with Schell throwing a short pass to Ballengee, who then lateraled the ball to running back Robert Cope, who completed the 79-yard play by running to the end zone.

Receiver Ryan Keys is another top target for Schell, who was 13-for-20 passing for 154 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and ran 20 times for 112 yards against Scioto.

“They run a shotgun spread offense and mix the run and the pass, similar to Bradley,” Zingery said. “(Schell) is a good athlete and their leading rusher. Defensively, (lineman Cole Albright) stands out.”

Against Bradley, the Cardinals had 42 snaps in the first half to 25 for the Jaguars. Quarterback Charlie Rhoades threw touchdown passes of 7 and 15 yards to Khalil Jones and Owen Graham had a 25-yard field goal.

Rhoades was 18-for-32 passing for 178 yards, but threw interceptions on three consecutive possessions in the second half. Cameron Ryan had seven catches for 102 yards and Jones had five for 62 yards. Dijahn Davis rushed for 59 yards on 15 carries and Jones added 44 yards on seven carries.

Wolves prepare
to face Pacers

Kilbourne will be looking to get back on track when it returns to OCC-Cardinal play as host to Delaware on Friday, Sept. 29.

Both teams are 2-3 overall and are coming off losses. On Sept. 22, the Wolves fell to Hartley 45-17 in a non-league contest, while Delaware lost to Scioto 10-0 in its league opener.

Kilbourne defeated Thomas 26-25 in overtime in its league opener Sept. 15.

“Delaware has had renewed energy in the program since Mike (Golden) took over as coach (in 2014),” coach Vince Trombetti said. “I understand that they have a freshman quarterback (Blake Eiland), which is tough, and are dealing with some injuries. But we have our own injuries to deal with.”

The Wolves faced Hartley without linebacker Noah Reed, and linebacker Nick Streets was injured during the game. They also gave junior Grayson Timms his first start at quarterback and used a handful of running backs in an attempt to stay fresh, as the temperature was in the mid-80s at the start of the game.

The Wolves rushed for 234 yards on 38 carries (6.2 yards per carry), led by Elijah Young (15 carries, 75 yards), Parker Wereb (5 carries, 56 yards), Timms (9 carries, 50 yards) and Caleb Andrick (8 carries, 38 yards).

“I thought Grayson read the option well once he got settled down,” Trombetti said. “We were down 14-0 in the first quarter and were in the red zone ready to make it 14-7. We threw a swing pass to Elijah and it was incomplete. The referees didn’t blow the whistle, but also didn’t throw the bean bag to signal it was a fumble. Their kid (Jordan Kirkbride) returned it 89 yards for a touchdown, so we go from possible 14-7 to 21-0 and that took the wind out of our sails.

“Our kids didn’t react to (the ball) because the official didn’t throw his bean bag and didn’t immediately follow (Kirkbride) down the field. The film showed it was definitely a forward pass and not a lateral.”

Kilbourne, which trailed 31-0 at halftime, got touchdown runs by Andrick (3 yards) and Wereb (8 yards) and a 45-yard field goal from Joey Laudermilch.

“Tyler Ward played well at strong safety and Kaleb Dave and Mitchell Rosenfeld played well on the defensive line,” Trombetti said. “Alonso Olivares stepped in for Streets at linebacker and had six tackles. The takeaway is that we played hard for 48 minutes and we won’t face another team as physical as Hartley. This game will make us tougher in the long haul.”

The Pacers trailed Scioto 3-0 in the fourth quarter before allowing a 76-yard touchdown pass.

Delaware was held to 87 total yards, with running back Jahi Broussard-Nash gaining 28 yards rushing on 10 carries and slotback Blain McCormick adding 26 yards on eight carries. Eiland was 5-for-9 passing for 18 yards.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek