Big Walnut at Westerville Central: Golden Eagles wary of Wildcats

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Big Walnut's Lane Pritchard closes in on Delaware's Alex Blevins during their game Aug. 28.

After the Big Walnut football team held off Delaware 14-6 in a defensive struggle Aug. 28 to give him a victory in his first game, coach Rob Page realizes the Golden Eagles face a different challenge in Week 2.

Big Walnut visits Westerville South on Friday, Sept. 4, for an OCC-Capital Division game in which Page knows slowing down South's spread offense is imperative.

The Wildcats opened league play with a 42-28 win at Dublin Scioto on Aug. 28, rolling up 465 total yards.

"(A concern) is their overall team speed," Page said. "They might be as fast as a team position-by-position as there is in our league."

Another concern is containing junior receiver Kaden Saunders, who has committed to Penn State. He had seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns against Scioto.

"He's fantastic," Page said of Saunders. "He can catch a screen and take it to the house. He can run a deep route and take you over the top. He can run an intermediate one and make your guy miss and score. He's elusive. He's dynamic. A guy doesn't go to the Big Ten and go to a place like Penn State if he's not a baller. He's on our radar."

Senior quarterback Peter Pedrozo, who missed the second half of last season with a broken right collarbone, completed 21 of 30 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns for the Wildcats.

Junior running back Brandon Armstrong rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

"Their running back is pretty dynamic," Page said. "They have some other receivers that can make some plays. Their quarterback showed some elusiveness in the pocket against Scioto. They're more than just a one-trick pony throwing it up to (Saunders). Defensively, they're ball hawks."

Caden Williams rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries to help lead Big Walnut past Delaware, and the defense was led by linebacker A.J. Leasure with a team-high 15 tackles.

"Big Walnut runs a very similar defense to Scioto, so from a prep standpoint offensively we know what we're getting," South coach Matthew Christ said. "There might be a couple of wrinkles, but it's not like we're going to have to talk through a new defense this week."

Senior Jagger Barnett, a third-year starter at quarterback for the Golden Eagles, passed for 110 yards and rushed for 67 against Delaware.

"They're running a similar offense to us," Christ said. "Defensively we went against our offense the whole preseason, so I feel pretty good about that as well. It's really just cleaning up the little things on our end."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

WEEK 2

BIG WALNUT at WESTERVILLE SOUTH

*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4

*Last meeting: 2017, South 47-14

*Big Walnut (1-0) to date: Defeated Delaware 14-6

*Westerville South (1-0) to date: Def. Dublin Scioto 42-28

*Top Golden Eagles: Jagger Barnett (QB), Cam Gladden (WR/K), Brady Hershberger (WR/DB), A.J. Leasure (TE/LB), Lane Pritchard (WR/DB), Mark Ruffing (OL/DL), Mahlon Spangler (OL/DL), Gage Sutton (TE/DL), Cole Wecker (OL/DL) and Caden Williams (RB/DE)

*Top Wildcats: Brandon Armstrong (RB/DB), Zane Boszor (LB), Jesse DeVore (WR/WB), Elvis Gyabeng (H-back/DL), Kahli Horton-Campbell (H-back/LB), Tyler O'Reilly (OL/DL), Devin Oteng-Achamfour (HB/DL/LB), Peter Pedrozo (QB), Kaden Saunders (WR/DB) and Jalen Wheeler (WR/DB)