Olentangy High School football coach Mark Solis was glad his team faced some adversity in a 21-14 win at Marysville on Sept. 22.
He expects more of the same Friday, Sept. 29, when the Braves visit Westerville South in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener for both teams.
“Those are good for us. I like those tough games,” Solis said. “Marysville runs a wing-T and that’s not traditional in terms of what you see nowadays, so it’s tough to prepare for and it’s tough to simulate. We won time of possession and when we had the ball, we did some good things. Probably my biggest concern was our penalties (nine for 105 yards), but I like where we are. We’re taking advantage of our chances and doing a lot of good things. We’ll have to keep that up.”
Olentangy, which is 4-1, will face a South team that has changed considerably since the Braves defeated the Wildcats 31-0 last year.
Perhaps the most notable difference under first-year coach Matthew Christ is that standout athlete Jaelen Gill is healthy. The Ohio State commit missed most of last season because of a broken right fibula but has made his presence felt this year, leading the Wildcats in rushing yards (468), carries (56) and touchdowns (9) while catching nine passes for 212 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Max Barber has completed 41 of 71 passes for 677 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. His top target is Mike McLemore, who has caught 19 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown.
South’s defense is led by end Antonio Smith, a Bowling Green commit.
The Wildcats are 3-2 and coming off a 47-14 win over Big Walnut on Sept. 22.
“They have good team speed and Gill accounts for a lot of that, but he’s not their only playmaker,” Solis said. “They run a 4-4 or a 4-3 (defensively); the great unknown is how much man coverage they will play. They’ll usually show you even fronts.”
Adam Primm’s two touchdowns – which came on his first two catches of the year – helped the Braves hold off the Monarchs. Primm caught a 23-yard score from Riley Bruening in the first quarter and a 7-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 52 seconds left.
According to Solis, Primm had been limited earlier this season because of a back injury.
Caden Kaiser caught four passes for 110 yards and Olentangy’s other touchdown.
Olentangy went 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye last year to tie Orange and Westerville Central for second behind Liberty (5-0).
“We’re all 0-0 now,” Solis said. “Potentially anybody can contend for a league championship. The league might be as good as it’s been; anybody has a chance to knock off anybody. I like where we are. We just have to keep it up and minimize our mistakes.”