Trent Maddox's comfort level in his first season as the Olentangy football team's starting quarterback is reflected in his statistics.
Working behind a veteran offensive line, Maddox has completed 71.3 percent of his passes -- 92 of 129 -- for 1,117 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions during the Braves' 3-2 start. Olentangy is averaging 27.8 points and 363 total yards per game.
Ten receivers have caught at least one pass, and Maddox jokes that his job is made easier because as far as he's concerned, three of them might as well be the same person on the field.
Six-foot-5 Jake Coleman, 6-4 Jace Middleton and 6-2 Caleb Gossett have combined to catch 68 passes for 876 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"They make my job pretty easy, guys who are 6-2, 6-4 and 6-5 making plays, and the offensive line gives me time to make those plays," Maddox said. "They're basically the same three guys, which is awesome. They're really consistent route runners. I know exactly where they'll be and when they're going to be there."
Coleman (34 catches, 449 yards, 9 TDs) is a senior. Gossett (11 catches, 110 yards), Middleton (23 catches, 317 yards, 2 TDs) and Daniel Kelly, who has caught 15 passes for 159 yards and two scores, are juniors.
"I just tell Trent to throw it into their zip code," coach Mark Solis said. "They'll go up and get it."
Olentangy, which is coming off a dramatic 38-35 win Sept. 27 at New Albany, begins defense of its OCC-Buckeye Division tri-championship Friday, Oct. 4, at Westerville South. Hayden Olcott kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Eagles.
"We've done a good job of running crisp routes," Coleman said. "Trent is a great quarterback and that's huge with ball placement."
Gossett missed his sophomore season because of a torn labrum and chipped bone in his left shoulder suffered in the team's final scrimmage.
"All summer, my goal was to get back here and do something for the team," Gossett said. "So far, it's been great. I'm more physical now. I'm learning how to use my body more."
Middleton, a third-year varsity player, thinks the Braves haven't always played to their full potential.
"Driving down the field, I give us an 'A.' Finishing plays and finishing drives, I give us a 'D,'" Middleton said before the New Albany game. "We've left points out there. We can push the ball on teams and get some push on the defense. It's about not really trying to trick the defense, just being more physical up front."
Maddox was 18-of-33 passing for 223 yards with four touchdowns and an interception at New Albany. The Braves outscored the Eagles 17-0 in the final 11 minutes, 31 seconds and achieved an offensive balance Solis has longed for, rushing for 227 yards -- including Ethan Hand's 2-yard game-tying touchdown with 5:36 left.
South fell to 4-1 with a 35-14 home loss to Reynoldsburg on Sept. 27. Not only did the Wildcats commit six turnovers, but quarterback Peter Pedrozo and running back Michael Mansaray both left with injuries.
Mansaray has 918 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns this season.
"We need to do a better job creating more balance in our offensive attack, a better job of running the ball," Solis said. "We're in a good position. Knowing we have challenging games ahead of us, the thing we've focused on is controlling what we can do."