Big Walnut Roundup: Offensive line paving way for playmakers

SCOTT GERFEN
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Zeus Martinez of Big Walnut races down field after catching a pass during a 14-6 victory over visiting Delaware on Aug. 28. The Golden Eagles, who were 2-1 entering their game against Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 18, will play at Westerville North on Friday, Sept. 25.

Today's high school football offenses can have numerous formations and multiple checks and audibles at the line of scrimmage.

While the offense installed by first-year Big Walnut coach Rob Page might look complicated, he keeps it simple, especially for those doing the blocking.

"We give teams a lot of formations and a lot of different looks, but we call it 'complex simplicity,' " he said. "We make it look a certain way, but it's really just the same for our guys up front."

Those five up front -- senior tackles Mark Ruffing and Cole Wecker, junior guards Grant Ferris and Aidan Hernandez and junior center Wyant Lenz -- have been paving the way for an offense that averaged 30 points through three games.

Big Walnut was 2-1 overall and in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 18.

"We have our different reads for linemen, depending on how defenses line up, but we don't have to memorize a lot," Wecker said. "We just have rules to follow, depending on if we're covered or uncovered."

Making sure they "follow the rules" is new offensive line coach Paul Hardin, who worked with the defensive line last season.

"We've really adapted to a new way of blocking across the entire line, and that's really working for us," Ruffing said.

In a 35-6 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 11, the group opened holes for Gordon Rond, who rushed for 207 yards on 28 carries.

The senior, who also starts at linebacker, took on the workload in the backfield when coaches decided to keep senior running back Caden Williams out because of an injury.

Rond also had 69 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in a 50-41 loss at Westerville South on Sept. 4.

"Gordon is obviously more than a serviceable running back," Page said. "He has good vision, he's tough to tackle and he gets yards after contact. He's really locked in and he gets the most out of himself."

Big Walnut expects to take on a strong running game when it plays at Westerville North on Friday, Sept. 25, in league action.

Sylvester Bockarie ran for 165 yards and a touchdown Sept. 11 as the Warriors lost to Westerville South for the 14th consecutive time, 32-28.

The Warriors were 2-1 overall and in the OCC-Capital before playing Canal Winchester on Sept. 18.

"They have a pretty dynamic running back, and they have receivers who I've seen on film make some big plays," Page said. "They're really sound schematically. ... They could've beaten Westerville South. They're improved. It has to be a testament to their coaching staff, the growth that they've had from 1-9 last season."

Boys golfers take third in league

The boys golf team closed out the four-round OCC-Capital tournament in third place.

Big Walnut went 19-8, finishing behind Kilbourne (21-0) and Delaware (24-3).

Blake Shade averaged 77.3 and earned first-team all-league honors for the Golden Eagles. Kolin McKee (79.7) made the second team, Austen Bennett (83.3) made the third team and Corbin Borchers (84.7) was honorable mention.

The girls team went 5-15 in the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament as Grove City (20-0) won the title.

Emma Doty (103.5) had the best average, followed by Danielle Maynard (107.3), Audrey Hofer (107.7), Kat Brehm (113) and Lexie Henry (114).

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At a glance

FOOTBALL -- WEEK 5

BIG WALNUT at WESTERVILLE NORTH

*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25

*Last meeting: First meeting

*Big Walnut (2-1 overall, 2-1 in OCC-Capital) to date: Defeated Delaware 14-6; lost to Westerville South 50-41; def. Franklin Heights 35-6; played Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 18

*North (2-1 overall, 2-1 in OCC-Capital) to date: Def. Franklin Heights 17-0; def. Delaware 24-7; lost to South 32-28; played Canal Winchester on Sept. 18

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

*Top Warriors: Brennan Albertini (RB/LB), Sylvester Bockarie (RB/LB), Wyatt Buxton (QB), Coby Darlington (WR/DB), Nathan Dunfee (OL/DL), Mitchell Gillam (OL/DL), Mohammed Nasser (OL/DL), Ty O'Hearn (WR/DB/LS) and Reuben Simiyu (OL/DL)

Corbin Borchers was honorable mention all-league as the Big Walnut boys golfers finished third in the OCC-Capital.