Olentangy High School football coach Mark Solis saw his first film of this week’s opponent, Grove City, even before the Braves routed visiting Hilliard Darby 45-24 in their opener Aug. 25.
Solis immediately noticed a swarming defense that tries to thrive on multiple coverages.
“They will bring six or seven guys every snap and they give you a good mix of man and zone,” said Solis, whose team visits the Dawgs on Friday, Sept. 1. “It will be a good test, a good battle. They look a lot better with their new coach (Tennyson Varney). They’re playing hard.”
The Braves hope the Dawgs are the second consecutive opponent they are able to overmatch with their depth.
After trailing Darby 17-7 by the middle of the second quarter, Olentangy reeled off 38 unanswered points to take control. The Braves scored 28 points off three Panthers turnovers and a bad snap on a punt that set up first-and-goal inside Darby’s 10-yard line.
Ali Iverson rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries to lead Olentangy, which had nine backs carry the ball – including quarterbacks Riley Bruening and Connor Haag – and six receivers make catches.
Bruening, a senior, edged junior incumbent Haag for the start. Bruening completed nine of 11 passes for 65 yards and ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half that gave the Braves a 21-17 lead.
Haag, who entered the game for Olentangy’s fourth series, completed four of six passes for 43 yards and had a 4-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
“Connor has that experience from starting last year and I have some experience from lacrosse that makes me shifty,” Bruening said. “We both know what we are doing. We are here to compete.”
Olentangy defeated Grove City 35-13 last year in the teams’ first meeting since 2005.
The Dawgs fell to their 13th consecutive loss Aug. 25, 24-0 at Hilliard Davidson.
D.J. Gatewood rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries to lead Grove City, which was outgained 236-93 and played without new addition Devin Dukes.
Dukes, a running back who rushed for 2,194 yards and 32 touchdowns last year at Ready and was named Division VI district Offensive Player of the Year, is sitting out because of OHSAA transfer rules.
Quarterback Austin Sigler, a second-year starter, leads an offense that also includes running backs Mark Bowman and Tristin Siemer.
Siemer, a Davidson transfer, also is a key player in the defensive backfield.