The Hilliard Darby High School football team encounters yet another opponent on the rise when it plays host to Dublin Jerome on Friday, Sept. 23.

The Hilliard Darby High School football team encounters yet another opponent on the rise when it plays host to Dublin Jerome on Friday, Sept. 23.

The Celtics have won nine consecutive games dating to last season, and improved to 4-0 this year with a 28-14 win over Dublin Scioto on Sept. 16 in the OCC-Cardinal Division opener for both teams.

That same night, Darby was outscored by three touchdowns over the final three quarters of a 41-20 loss to undefeated Bradley in both teams' OCC-Cardinal opener. The Panthers, who were tied at 14 with the Jaguars late in the first quarter, could not win their second game in a row and fell to 1-3 overall. They defeated host Westerville South 24-3 on Sept. 9.

Darby is 8-0 all-time against Jerome, including a 31-20 win last year.

Against Bradley, Ian Coverstone ran for 109 yards on eight carries to pace the Panthers. The vast majority of those yards came on an 88-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.

Tony Santos added eight carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Cory Brooks has completed 10 of only 28 pass attempts for 192 yards on the season but is the Panthers' leading rusher with 220 yards and two touchdowns on 62 carries.

Linebacker Tommy Clark has emerged as perhaps Darby's top defensive player, leading the team in total tackles (43) and solo stops (22). Jake Schnieder has 33 tackles, including 13 solo, at middle linebacker.

Jerome running back Austin Booth had 87 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries to lead the Celtics past Scioto. The Celtics stopped the Irish three times in Jerome territory.

Other offensive threats include quarterback Joe Dunnan and wide receivers Thomas Henderson, Matt Nesbit and Shay Talton. Jerome runs multiple schemes, including the I-formation, and usually works out of a 4-3 scheme on defense, where top players include Henderson in the secondary, linebacker Collin Hannan and lineman Josh Miller.

Dunnan became the full-time quarterback after Hunter Schell broke his right collarbone in the Celtics' 17-7 win over Lancaster on Sept. 2. Against Scioto, Dunnan, who had been rotating with Schell, was 8-for-13 passing for 130 yards with one touchdown and one interception and had 26 yards rushing.

"(The Panthers) run the heck out of the triple option," Jerome coach Bob Gecewich said. "They're big up front. They're going to be tough for us, no matter what. They're strong. They have the type of kids who are just going to fight you. Their offensive scheme is really difficult and their defensive line is impressive."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave