The Dublin Jerome football team is out to its best start in three years, but it isn't through the traditional means of size, speed and athleticism, according to coach Bob Gecewich.
The Celtics will be looking for their third consecutive win when they visit Thomas Worthington on Friday, Oct. 4, for an OCC-Cardinal Division contest.
Jerome beat Hilliard Darby 24-6 on Sept. 27 to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.
"I think that if you play hard and if you do your job, you at least give yourself a chance," said Gecewich, whose team won its first seven games in 2016 en route to a 10-2 finish. "It also helps that it matters to the kids on the team. Playing for their school and their community, that matters to them, so they're going to constantly play hard for us. So, I don't know about humming along or any of that (stuff). Ask the other team to keep giving us turnovers. That'd be nice."
Thomas dropped to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 43-10 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 27.
"There's going to be a lot of pressure on our seniors this week to play better and to lead better," Cardinal coach Matt Zingery said. "It's their team and they need to make the decision on where they want this team to be.
"For us as a program to try to get over the hump and become a winning program, (Sept. 27) was disappointing. There's no other way to put it. We had an opportunity against a good team going to their place and play football the way we've been playing ... and we didn't do that."
Adam Booth ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries to lead the Celtics over Darby. His 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter started a 24-point run after the Panthers had taken a 6-0 lead earlier in the period.
"Coach Gecewich runs a really good program over there," Zingery said. "Watching them on film, they're very athletic at every position ... and they play incredibly fast. Offensively, they run the football. They play a little bit of what we would call traditional football. They challenge you."
Defensively, the Celtics forced three turnovers and held Darby's offense off the scoreboard. The Panthers' only touchdown came on 75-yard interception return by Connor Jones.
"I think (our defense) only gave up two big plays," Gecewich said. "We had some kids chase their kids down from the backside. Some of that is obviously (speed), but how much of pursuit is just want-to instead of throwing your hands up and letting them go."
The Cardinals were limited to 158 yards of offense by Bradley and were held out of the end zone until Nate Hoover's 6-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining.
"(Sheron) Phipps is a great talent," Gecewich said of the Cardinals' wide receiver and defensive back. "I like their tight end (Brandon Ross) a lot. Their offensive line is huge. They have a lot of experience on their team. A lot of those kids started against us last year."
Hoover rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries against Bradley and quarterback Caleb Ortega was 4-for-10 passing for 49 yards and an interception in relief of James Gaiters.
"A lot of sophomores were able to play (Sept. 27)," Zingery said. "It wasn't perfect, but they did some good things and they did some bad things that we can work on in practice."