First-year Westerville South High School football coach Matthew Christ will get his first taste of league play as a head coach when the Wildcats face Olentangy on Friday, Sept. 29, at home.
Christ had been an associate head coach at Grandview since 2012, also serving as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and wide receivers coach. He was the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Dublin Jerome in 2011.
“We’re getting into our division,” Christ said. “It’s like a second season and right out of the gate with Olentangy, which will be one heck of a test.”
South enters the OCC-Buckeye Division opener having won back-to-back games, including a 47-14 win over visiting Big Walnut on Sept. 22 to improve to 3-2.
Olentangy improved to 4-1 by holding off Marysville 21-14 on Sept. 22.
“Defensively, they run very well and they’re physical,” Christ said. “They tackle and they swarm to the football. Offensively, they do a very good job of running a lot of different formations and putting their kids in good spots to try to be athletic. So (the Braves are) similar to us in that respect, trying to create different situations and matchups.”
Last season in the league, Olentangy went 3-2 to tie Olentangy Orange and Westerville Central for second and South went 1-4 to finish fifth behind champion Olentangy Liberty (5-0).
The Braves beat South 31-0 a year ago and have won three consecutive meetings in the series. The Wildcats’ last win came in 2011, 42-20.
South built a 34-0 lead against Big Walnut by halftime. Taveon Falls led a balanced rushing attack with 131 yards and one touchdown on nine carries, and Jaelen Gill added 127 yards and two touchdowns on six carries.
“It was a solid win,” Christ said. “It was an exciting night with homecoming, a good crowd, and we’re continuing to get better, which is the most important thing.”
For the season, Gill has rushed for 468 yards and nine touchdowns and Falls has 215 yards and one touchdown.
Quarterback Max Barber completed 11 of 15 passes for 154 yards with two touchdowns against Big Walnut. For the season, he has completed 41 of 71 passes for 677 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Olentangy has a balanced rushing attack led by quarterback Riley Bruening (310 yards, 3 touchdowns) and running back Ali Iverson (300 yards, 4 touchdowns). Bruening also has passed for 582 yards with six touchdowns and one interception.