The Dublin Jerome High School football team is preparing to face an opponent that is quickly gaining attention in central Ohio.

The Celtics visit Thomas Worthington on Friday, Sept. 29, in an OCC-Cardinal Division game.

Jerome improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the league with a 21-0 home win over Hilliard Darby on Sept. 22, while the Cardinals are 3-2 and 0-2.

Thomas entered the season on a 17-game losing streak but has shown considerable improvement under first-year coach Matt Zingery.

The Cardinals won their first three games and were competitive in both of their losses, losing to rival Worthington Kilbourne 26-25 in overtime Sept. 15 and falling to Hilliard Bradley 31-17 on Sept. 22. They led the unbeaten Jaguars 17-14 at halftime.

“Once you get confidence in this game and once kids get confidence, they play extremely well as they should,” Jerome coach Bob Gecewich said of Thomas. “They have really good athletes. They’re the only team last year that manned us up and could run with our guys. We couldn’t get open deep on them last year.”

Jerome quarterback Hayden Schell has completed 48 of 83 passes for 568 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and leads the team in rushing with 263 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries.

Robert Cope, who missed the Darby game with a shoulder injury, has rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.

Trey Ballengee leads the receiving corps with 13 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns.

Against Darby, Schell rushed for 93 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown, and Wil Intihar returned a fumble 95 yards for a touchdown. On special teams, Cade Kacherski blocked a field goal for the second time in as many games.

“Our boys came to play. They played hard on defense,” Gecewich said.

Among the Celtics’ defensive standouts against Darby was 5-foot-10, 143-pound sophomore free safety Scott Sonnanstine.

“He was filling the alley and laying the wood all night,” Gecewich said.

Against Bradley, Thomas quarterback Charlie 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 Khalil Jones had five for 62 yards, while Dijahn Davis rushed for 59 yards on 15 carries and Jones added 44 yards on seven carries.

“Thomas brings the house, so they’re putting a lot of pressure on you defensively,” Gecewich said. “Offensively, they’re making big plays.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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