The Hilliard Bradley High School football team is staring at perfection.
The Jaguars are 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division heading into their regular-season finale Friday, Oct. 27, at Delaware.
Bradley was projected to be third in the Division I, Region 3 computer ratings entering Week 10 and already has clinched a playoff berth. The top eight teams in the region make the playoffs, with the top four having first-round home games.
The Jaguars also have already clinched at least a share of the OCC-Cardinal title. They would win it outright with a win over Delaware or a Dublin Jerome loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 27. The Celtics are 4-1 in the league.
“You talk about (going unbeaten) for so long,” coach Mike LoParo said. “It’s been a long building process because you already have the two giants (Davidson and Darby) in town and I think we did a lot of infrastructure in the first few years that is really starting to pay off.”
Senior offensive lineman Michael Yanes said the years of hard work is paying off.
“Honestly, it’s something that’s expected with all of the hard work we have put in here,” Yanes said. “We have been playing so long together, and it’s something that we need to accomplish for ourselves.”
Delaware is 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the league after losing to Darby 35-0 on Oct. 20. Freshman quarterback Blake Eiland was 8-for-15 passing for 116 yards and three interceptions and rushed for 48 yards.
“(The Pacers) give you a multitude of things to worry about on offense,” LoParo said. “It seems like they have several different styles of play, from spread to wing-T to full house. You name it, it looks like they have it.
“Defensively, they look pretty sound. They are in their gaps and try to control the blocking schemes and it will be a challenge like every week.”
The Jaguars rolled past Kilbourne 63-21 on Oct. 19 as quarterback Josh Stewart was 12-for-16 passing for 204 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 51 yards and two scores.
“We came out and executed well early,” said Stewart, who transferred from Kilbourne in the offseason. “When we do our job, we’re hard to stop, and we did that (against Kilbourne).”
Stewart has completed 125 of 197 passes for 1,956 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has rushed for 401 yards and seven touchdowns on 82 carries.
His primary targets are wide receivers Daevon Anderson (50 catches, 993 yards, 10 touchdowns), Kory Taylor (41 catches, 643 yards, 5 TDs) and Trey Warner (24 catches, 228 yards, 2 TDs).
Running back Grant Buehl leads the Jaguars in rushing with 452 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries. Running back Jack Richards has 446 yards and seven scores on 81 carries.
“Going 10-0 is huge and it means a lot because it will be the first time in school history and all of that stuff, but we’re just trying to ride that momentum into the playoffs,” Stewart said. “We work to go 1-0 every week and coach LoParo stresses that. We try to take things week to week and not get caught up in the other things.”