Coming off back-to-back deep postseason runs, the Pickerington High School Central football team hasn't had many opportunities lately to use the lack-of-respect card.
The Tigers entered their opener Aug. 26 against Chicago Phillips Academy at Otterbein in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown on ESPN believing they had something to prove, particularly on their offensive line, where they lost all five starters from last year's Division I state championship team.
Although there still are things to sort out as Central prepares to play host to West Toronto (Ontario) Prep on Friday, Aug. 31, its 49-18 victory over a Phillips team that won Illinois' Division 5A state title last season certainly was a step toward answering some questions.
"Our offensive line coach, Ryan Daugherty, is rotating anywhere from seven to sometimes 10 different guys there," coach Jay Sharrett said. "We're not sure if the same guy can play 55 plays or if we'll need two guys to play 25 apiece. On a (hot) day like this, we're going to rotate our guys. That was a tough assignment (against Phillips) because that first couple series they were off the ball fast into our backfield. Once you adjust to their speed and get a feel for them, you can react quicker.
"We're 3-1 on ESPN and I'm sure they're going to go on and win a bunch of ballgames. We're going to recover. We're a little beat up right now because they were good hitters. ... We'll still learn something from this film and wind it up and do it again on a short week."
The Tigers' next opponent is in just its second season and is coming off a 43-7 loss to McMurry (Pennsylvania) Peters Township on Aug. 24.
The Golden was limited to about 50 yards of offense by Peters Township a season after going 1-3. In their inaugural game last season, they lost to eventual Division II state champion Akron Hoban 41-0.
Should things go as expected for the Tigers, the Week 2 matchup will provide an opportunity to spread around playing time and get key players some rest as they prepare to play Sept. 7 at defending Division III state champion Trotwood-Madison.
Quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw completed seven of 10 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a score against Phillips Academy, while Jamir Jackson had six carries for 49 yards and a 73-yard touchdown reception.
Lorenzo Styles Jr. added a 23-yard rushing touchdown and Terry Simuel, Jaquwon Crawford and Karter Johnson all had receiving touchdowns.
Defensively, Ty Hamilton had two fumble recoveries, including one that he returned for an 11-yard touchdown. DeWayne Carter, Mario Elmore and Thomas Few each had one fumble recovery, and Simuel had an interception.
"It was great," said Johnson, a move-in from Gahanna who scored his first prep touchdown. "You walked in and the atmosphere was great, with the fans coming out and playing against a great team and beating them on TV."