A program-best season continues for the Hilliard Bradley High School football team, but coach Mike LoParo said that along with the success comes a big bull's-eye.
The Jaguars are 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, but they also are drawing the attention of opponents. They expect to get their foes' best shots in the final two weeks of the regular season.
LoParo knows his team will need to be ready to play when it plays host to Worthington Kilbourne on Thursday, Oct. 19, in a league contest.
"It's great to be undefeated, but with that comes its own difficulties," LoParo said. "You know you are going to get (your opponent's) best each time you take the field. It will be like that against Kilbourne and in the final week at Delaware (on Oct. 27). I keep telling the players to keep their heads in the sand, tune everything out and just keep working."
The Jaguars were projected to be second in the Division I, Region 3 computer ratings this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs, with the top four earning a home game in the first round.
Kilbourne is 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Darby 17-3 on Oct. 13.
Elijah Young leads the Wolves' rushing attack with 538 yards and two touchdowns on 116 carries. Quarterback Grayson Timms is 40-for-104 passing for 433 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. His top targets are Gavin Baker (12 catches, 207 yards, 3 TDs) and Joey McQuade (11 catches, 237 yards, 2 TDs).
"They have some pretty good athletes and they run a spread (attack) now and throw the ball around a lot," LoParo said. "They have a good running back. He's shifty and elusive.
"Defensively, they are physical and run well to the ball. They are going to get a lot of guys to the point of attack and they load up the line of scrimmage."
The Jaguars' spread offense is led by quarterback Josh Stewart, who transferred from Kilbourne in the offseason. The senior has completed 114 of 182 passes for 1,743 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
In a 28-7 league win over Dublin Jerome on Oct. 13, Stewart was 11-for-22 passing for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Daevon Anderson had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, and Kory Taylor had four receptions for 68 yards and one score.
Grant Buehl led the Jaguars' ground game against the Celtics with 73 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, and Stewart added 62 yards on 11 carries.
"We had a game plan and we stuck to it for the most part," Stewart said. "We still have some things we need to work on in practice. We need to have a better week of practice and execute a little better."