The Dublin Scioto and Jerome high school football teams have engaged in entertaining games throughout their rivalry, and both coaches expect a similar battle when they meet Friday, Sept. 14, at Jerome to open OCC-Cardinal Division play.
The Celtics lead the all-time series, which dates to 2008, 6-4 and have won the past four meetings, including a 21-17 victory last season.
Jerome is looking to get back on track after falling to 1-2 with consecutive losses to Division I powers in Pickerington North (35-28 on Aug. 31) and Coffman (45-14 on Sept. 7). The Celtics led the Shamrocks 14-10 at halftime, but were outscored 35-0 in the second half.
"Coach (Bob) Gecewich does a really good job with his kids, getting them to believe and play hard," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. "That's what they do - they play hard. We have to match that. We have to play hard and not get caught up in the drama of a Dublin rivalry game. It's Week 1 in the league and do your job. That's our focus."
Scioto rebounded from a 37-21 loss to New Albany on Aug. 30 to hold off Big Walnut 28-26 on Sept. 7 to improve to 2-1.
Running back Pete Hrelec rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown against the Golden Eagles.
"This game is respectful," Gecewich said of the rivalry with Scioto. "I have to figure out a way to get us to play four quarters. We've dug ourselves a hole and we have to get out of it."
Scioto and Jerome both run spread offenses, led by senior quarterbacks.
Irish quarterback Kyron Rogers has completed 32 of 68 passes for 505 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Hrelec has 233 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 41 carries, while Rogers' primary target has been wide receiver Tobias Thomas, who has 15 catches for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
"It's a crosstown rivalry. It's going to be a big game, it's going to be a close one," Rogers said. "We've grown up with each other through (Dublin Football League). Their defense is really good and their offense is pretty decent this year, too."
Celtics quarterback Hayden Schell has completed 37 of 77 passes for 597 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries.
Running back Ezra Strickland has 199 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 25 carries, and wide receiver Trey Ballengee has 15 receptions for 259 yards and two scores.
"It's Scioto week," Schell said. "They're an athletic team. Up front, they're pretty small, but they have some athletes on the outside. Their quarterback is a good quarterback. I know Kyron really well. He's a good player. He can move with his feet and he has a good arm. He's a good athlete."
Last season, Jerome went 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish second behind champion Hilliard Bradley (6-0) and Scioto went 3-3 to finish fourth.
First-year Olentangy Berlin has joined the league.
"It's a great league. Great teams, really good coaches," Johnson said. "Every week is going to be a challenge and no bigger challenge than Jerome in Week 4."