Nothing can change a high school football team’s outlook quite like a rivalry game.
Two programs with strikingly different opening-week outcomes meet Friday, Sept. 1, when Dublin Coffman plays host to Scioto.
The Shamrocks opened Aug. 25 with a 45-0 road victory over Perrysburg. That same night, the Irish lost their opener 50-14 to visiting Westerville South.
“(Our players) will be focused in practice (this week). We have to keep our minds right and work to get better,” Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. “The last few years we really struggled against (Coffman), and we’re at their place. Our kids have to be mentally prepared because (the Shamrocks) will have playmakers and more depth.”
Coffman leads the series 7-4 and has won the last three matchups against Scioto, including a 45-7 victory last year. The Irish last won in 2013, 30-17.
“It’s a rivalry game, so there’s not a lot you need say to (the players),” Shamrocks coach Mark Crabtree said. “You let matters take their course. The kids will be up all week in practice and both teams know who they are playing. That all takes care of itself.”
The Shamrocks limited Perrysburg to 142 total yards, including just 22 rushing.
Coffman’s aerial attack took a backseat to its running game as senior Gavin Sturdivant rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Senior quarterback Marcus Ernst added 97 yards and two scores on 10 carries as the Shamrocks totaled 290 yards on the ground.
Through the air, Ernst was 7-for-14 for 59 yards with one interception.
“Gavin was Gavin for us,” Crabtree said. “It was nothing flashy, but he’s always steady and always consistent. He plays hard and is a very physical runner.
“Marcus also did a really good job. He made some good decisions with the ball and had a steady all-around game.”
Sky Wayne added a 16-yard rushing touchdown, Ethan Brown scored on a 14-yard run and Jordan Drye kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Defensively, Ryan Hamilton returned an interception 14 yards for a score, and Jeslord Boateng, Darius Cummings and Tate Isaly each had a sack.
“Maybe this is just a coach talking here, but you notice a lot of mistakes on film and you see flaws in technique,” Crabtree said. “We’re happy with the outcome, but we have to get better.”
Scioto had 201 total yards against South, led by quarterback Jaden Penn, who was 12-for-22 passing for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Penn moved behind center from wide receiver after junior quarterback Kyron Rogers suffered a hand injury during preseason conditioning. Johnson hopes Rogers can return to the lineup early in the season.
Ohio State commit Jaelen Gill had a big game for the Wildcats, rushing for 138 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries and making two catches for 67 yards and a score.
Johnson said the key to defeating a playmaking team is by controlling the time of possession.
“Jaelen Gill was as advertised,” he said. “We knew our best defense was to keep their offense off the field. That was our goal, but we had a lot of kids that got their first varsity start and they are going to get better.”
Penn threw a 26-yard touchdown to Tobias Thomas, who had five receptions for 104 yards. Jose Ramirez had 29 yards on four carries, including an 18-yard touchdown.
“We can’t define a season by where we stand in Week 1,” Johnson said. “We’ll see where we are in Week 10 to evaluate the season.
“Our focus has to be to get better, do the little things right and good things will happen and everything else will take care of itself.”