Averaging almost 18 yards per catch as the Olentangy High School football team’s top wide receiver, Caden Kaiser is no stranger to making big plays.
Half of his eight catches Oct. 27 against Westerville Central came on the Braves’ final drive and helped ensure his team could prolong its season.
Quarterback Riley Bruening threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Kaiser with 1 minute, 21 seconds left as host Olentangy defeated Central 35-31 in the OCC-Buckeye Division and regular-season finale for both teams. Earlier on the drive, Bruening and Kaiser hooked up to convert two fourth downs and one third down.
“The bond between a quarterback and a receiver is a pretty special one,” said Kaiser, who has 46 catches for 826 yards and eight touchdowns. “We’ve had a good running game all year, but when we’ve needed to pass the ball I feel a responsibility to make big plays. It’s all about timing.”
Olentangy improved to 7-3 overall and will make the Division I, Region 2 playoffs. The Braves — who finished 3-2 in the league — were sixth in the region entering the game and the top eight teams make the playoffs.
Ali Iverson rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries, and Jaden Konadu added two touchdown runs for Olentangy.
“Caden is our go-to guy, our big-play guy,” Braves coach Mark Solis said. “We had some good play calls (late).”
Allen Smith rushed for 119 yards on 26 carries and caught two passes for 56 yards to lead Central, including a 54-yard touchdown catch from Labronz Davis that gave the Warhawks a 31-28 lead with 9:11 to play.
Central entered the week ninth in Region 2 but dropped to 11th on Oct. 26 because of an Upper Arlington forfeit to Central Crossing. The Warhawks finished 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the league.
Ashton Gilkey had two touchdowns for Central, one on a 50-yard pass from Davis in the first quarter and the other on an 84-yard punt return in the second.
“We had our chances on offense and on defense,” Warhawks coach John Magistro said. “We had too many missed tackles.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final WESTERVILLE CENTRAL 10 7 7 7 31 OLENTANGY
7 14 0 14 35
WC—Gilkey 50 pass from Davis (Borcilla kick)
O—Konadu 4 run (Petrone kick)
WC—Borcilla 27 FG
WC—Gilkey 84 punt return (Borcilla kick)
O—Konadu 15 run (Petrone kick)
O—Iverson 4 run (Petrone kick)
WC—Hallinan 44 pass from Davis (Borcilla kick)
O—Iverson 5 run (Petrone kick)
WC—Smith 54 pass from Davis (Borcilla kick)
O—Kaiser 27 pass from Bruening (Petrone kick)