To hear the Olentangy football team's offensive lineman discuss the Braves' revitalized run game, no special transformation has taken place.
Still, the Braves enter the Division II, Region 7 final against Toledo Central Catholic on Friday, Nov. 22, at Tiffin Columbian having used a balanced effort in their deepest postseason run since 2014.
Sixth-seeded Olentangy ran for 216 yards and passed for 155 in a 31-21 win over second-seeded and previously undefeated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in a semifinal Nov. 15 at Columbian. That followed a 276-yard performance on the ground in a 42-10 win at third-seeded Troy in the first round Nov. 8.
The Braves averaged 116.1 yards rushing per game during the regular season, including outputs of 33, 80 and 81 yards from Weeks 8 to 10.
"Running the football is a mindset. It's an attitude to pound the rock," center Toby Wilson said. "We're just taking advantage of what other defenses do. You can't get the pass game going without the run game. That's a basic of football."
Tailback Landon Johnson had 21 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns, both in the second half, as the Braves erased a 14-10 deficit against Anthony Wayne. The Generals came in at 11-0 and were down to their third-string quarterback in Jacob Potkanowicz after previous starter Mason Alberts suffered a season-ending injury in a 44-36 first-round win over Berlin.
Quarterback Trent Maddox and fullback Ethan Hand each rushed for a score and the Braves benefited from the game's only turnover, a fumbled fair catch in the third quarter.
Eleven players have carries this year, including several receivers.
Johnson leads the way with 459 yards and five touchdowns on 80 carries. Maddox has 85 carries for 349 yards and four scores.
"We knew we didn't run as well as we wanted to in the regular season and that's a call-out to us and the fact that we need to do our job right. We've had great weeks of practices (in November) and it's been working for us," left tackle T.J. Gadd said. "Practice is everything. We've played very good teams. If we could run the ball, we knew we were going to be successful. We win up front. That's our mindset."
Gadd and Wilson, whose father is Ohio State assistant coach Kevin Wilson, are joined on the line by left guard Anthony DiMarzo, right guard Jason Feasel and right tackle Ethan Wise.
Olentangy is one of two 7-5 teams left in the playoffs. The other is Carey, which is the eighth seed in Division VI, Region 22.
"When we entered the playoffs, I said we were going to be a tough out and I kept telling our kids that," coach Mark Solis said. "I had an angry football team (Nov. 15) and they honed that anger in the right way in between the lines for 48 minutes, cleanly but physically. When these guys get angry, they're a really, really good football team."
Top-seeded Central Catholic, which was ranked second in the final state poll, improved to 12-0 with a 28-6 win over fourth-seeded Toledo St. John's in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at Oregon Clay.
The Fighting Irish pulled away by scoring 21 points in a 9-minute, 5-second span of the fourth quarter.
Prentiss Reasonover's 18-yard touchdown run preceded Randy Williams' 35-yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 21-6. Fifteen seconds later, Williams recovered a fumble and Jonzel Norrils scored from 4 yards with 6:19 to go.
The regional champion will advance to a state semifinal Nov. 29 at a neutral site.
Olentangy is seeking its second regional title and first since 2014.
"Nobody within our team has doubted ourselves," Maddox said. "We knew we were a good team even if our record doesn't exactly show that. Our confidence is very high."