Worthington Kilbourne High School football coach Vince Trombetti knows what to expect from his team's opponent this week.

Worthington Kilbourne High School football coach Vince Trombetti knows what to expect from his team's opponent this week.

The Wolves, who are looking to start 2-0 for the second consecutive season, will play host to Big Walnut on Friday, Sept. 2. Kilbourne defeated the Golden Eagles 23-16 last season when the teams were OCC-Capital Division rivals.

"There's not many secrets about Big Walnut," said Trombetti, whose team moved to the OCC-Cardinal this season as part of OCC realignment. "They're physical and will come right at you on both sides of the ball. They're aggressive and aren't going to back down."

Big Walnut surrendered 28 consecutive points in a 35-7 home loss to Mansfield Senior in its opener Aug. 26. That same night, Kilbourne pulled out a 29-28 overtime win at Olentangy Orange, another former OCC-Capital rival.

"Mansfield was a (Division II) playoff team last year and they're supposed to have a huge offensive line," Trombetti said. "Big Walnut lost some of its defensive (coaching) staff, so maybe they're still ironing some things out. All I know is that we have to worry about what we're doing because we didn't play as well as we thought we would've against Orange, especially on the defensive line."

The Wolves were outgained 372-243 in total yardage by Orange and were penalized nine times for 95 yards.

"I'm encouraged by the fact we never gave up when things weren't going our way and penalties were mounting up against us, but I was disappointed that we didn't play as well up front as we did in our scrimmages," Trombetti said. "Film doesn't lie, and the kids saw (Aug. 27) what we saw the night before. It was painfully apparent."

Big Walnut, which finished 2-8 last season, returned just four starters on offense, including running backs Evan Garcia and David Hunt. Garcia rushed for 1,011 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 196 carries last season and was named honorable mention all-league and special mention all-district in Division II. Hunt added 520 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. Both players averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Seven starters returned on the Golden Eagles' 50 defense, including lineman Sandy Smith, linebackers Brandon Mosher, Kobe Swackhammer and Kaleb Kocak and defensive back Abe Myers.

Against Orange, slotback Nick Hill scored on a 5-yard run in overtime and then tacked on the winning two-point conversion run after the Pioneers jumped offside on the extra-point attempt that could've forced a second overtime.

Hill, who finished with 69 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries and also made 10 tackles at cornerback, was called for pass interference in the end zone to help Orange set up its overtime touchdown. The game was tied at 21 through regulation.

"I thought Nick did a great job at corner and running back," Trombetti said. "(He) showed what type of character he has. (Linebackers) Thomas Wilson and Jack Trombetti also had 10 tackles apiece. I thought they did a good job and I think that Michael McQuade (22 carries for 91 yards) ran the ball well."

Cards hope to bounce back against Warriors

Thomas showed promise in its opener, but it will try to fix the issues that went awry in a 24-21 double-overtime loss to Canal Winchester on Aug. 26 while preparing for its home contest against Westerville North on Friday, Sept. 2.

The Warriors went 0-10 last season but won their Aug. 26 opener under first-year coach Scott Wetzel, defeating Groveport 24-21 as running back Greg Shehee scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 35 seconds remaining.

Wetzel has a 132-46 career record and guided Big Walnut to the Division III state title in 2007.

"(North) is running their wing-T very well. We're expecting them to come in here sky-high after beating a solid Groveport team," coach Rodney Hopkins said. "They have a quarterback (Julian Malone) who runs it well and has a good arm, even if he doesn't get a chance to show it much. They've got a kid (running back Bodi Bien) who runs the ball hard and can make things happen. We'll have to be prepared to play a tough, physical game with them."

Thomas fell behind Canal Winchester 14-0 in the second quarter before settling into the game.

"I was proud because the kids really kept their heads in the game and did the things we've been asking them to do for the past few years," Hopkins said. "That's the culture change we've been seeking. They weren't done until they left the field.

"I think now that we have a big junior class up there that has been with us for a while, they're starting to take some ownership of the program. Now we just have to take care of some of our chances on offense."

Thomas and North haven't faced each other since 2005, when the Warriors won 23-7.

Against Canal Winchester, quarterback Nick Kendig was 20-for-39 passing with two interceptions and scored on runs of 9 and 8 yards. His second touchdown run came on fourth down in overtime with the Cardinals trailing 21-14. The Cardinals' other touchdown was a 2-yard run by fullback DiJahn Davis.

"Nick played well," Hopkins said. "He hooked up with (receiver) Sam Lafontant six times for 69 yards and two or three of those were third-down plays to extend drives. Sam isn't real big, but he's not scared to go over the middle to make a good catch."

Receiver Fletch Curran had five receptions for 56 yards and running back Khalil Jones had four catches for 45 yards.

In the second overtime, Canal Winchester got pressure up the middle and blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by Beelal Hasan. The Indians then got a 38-yard field goal from Trevor Thompson to end the game.

"I thought our defense played very well after giving up touchdowns in the first few possessions," Hopkins said. "(Defensive back) Vincent Eguakan had a huge pass breakup and recovered a fumble. Travis Sanders played well up front and had six tackles and (linebacker) Layne Burns also had six tackles.

"I think Beelal Hasan was huge in special teams. He had a 63-yard and a 67-yard punt and averaged over 46 yards on six punts because he did have a shank of 14 yards. He helped flipped the field more than a few times to help out our defense."

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