The New Albany High School football team rebounded from a difficult loss to open OCC-Capital Division play with a lopsided win, but the Eagles know their work is far from finished.
At 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the league, New Albany will play host to Big Walnut on Friday, Oct. 12, seeking to both hang in the OCC-Capital race and avenge its only league loss a year ago.
New Albany bounced back from a 30-28 loss to Canal Winchester on Sept. 28 to post a 35-6 victory at Newark on Oct. 5. The Eagles fell behind on the first possession of the game but scored 21 points in the first quarter to take control.
"It's absolutely a huge game for us. Big Walnut knows us and we know them. They want to beat us and we want to beat them," coach Bubba Kidwell said. "I'm very proud of the way we battled back (at Newark). We settled down after we fell behind. The kids were down early in the week, but they responded very well."
Michiah Burton rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, Alex Cox had 13 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown and Reed Hall added 68 yards and a touchdown on six carries against Newark. New Albany's 387 yards rushing more than doubled the Wildcats' entire output of 192 yards.
Big Walnut improved to 3-4 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Capital with a 24-0 win at Franklin Heights on Oct. 5. The Golden Eagles amassed 231 of their 323 total yards through the air as quarterback Jagger Barnett completed 20 of 28 passes, including a 43-yard touchdown to Nathan Montgomery in the third quarter, and ran for a 1-yard score in the second quarter.
Tyler Crotinger also had a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Golden Eagles have outscored their first two league opponents 61-7, although those two teams -- Newark and Franklin Heights -- both are 1-6.
"I'm really impressed with their sophomore quarterback (Barnett). He throws an accurate ball; he's just a competitor," Kidwell said. "When we were breaking down their film, they were almost a 50/50 balance between the run and pass, whereas in the past they've been pretty run-heavy. They make you have to defend everything."
Big Walnut shut out New Albany 14-0 last season, but the Eagles still managed to tie the Golden Eagles for the OCC-Capital championship when Big Walnut lost to Canal Winchester to end the regular season.
The loss broke New Albany's two-game winning streak in the series, which the Eagles lead 8-4.
New Albany was projected to be 14th in this week's Division II, Region 7 computer ratings. The top eight teams in the region make the playoffs.