Dublin Coffman at Olentangy Liberty: 'Rocks, Patriots kick off OCC gauntlet
Olentangy Liberty football coach Steve Hale knows there are no pushovers in the realigned OCC-Central Division.
The Patriots, formerly of the OCC-Buckeye, are now set to battle Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Orange, Upper Arlington and Dublin Coffman. They will visit the latter team Friday, Sept. 4, to begin league play.
Liberty has qualified for the Division I postseason in each of the past six seasons, winning regional championships in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Last fall, they finished 10-2.
Coffman has reached the playoffs in the past 11 seasons and reached a regional final in the past two. In 2018, the Shamrocks lost to Liberty 21-7 in the Region 2 final.
"This is like being in the 'big-game division' of the OCC," said Hale, whose team defeated Olentangy Berlin 35-21 in its opener Aug. 28. "You have to be ready to play every week anyway and now it's even more important.
"It's going be a really challenging schedule, but the way things are set up this year (with six games and all teams can choose to play in the postseason), a challenging schedule can be a benefit. The teams we'll play in the playoffs can't be much better than what we'll see in the league. We'll just try to put the kids in the right place and find ways to win."
Coffman also won its opener, defeating Dublin Jerome 41-6 on Aug. 28.
"I think anybody who knows anything about football knows that you have to play every single down against the teams in our division, and it's the same routine week after week," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. "It will be brutal. That might prepare you for what you'll see in the playoffs."
The Shamrocks used a balanced attack to beat Jerome, totaling 345 yards and rushing for 203. Senior running back Bryon Threats ran for 119 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, and he caught three passes for 76 yards and one score.
Quarterback Connor Mathews was 6-for-7 passing for 142 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The senior also rushed for 27 yards on eight carries.
Senior defensive lineman Hammond Russell had an interception.
"It would be equivalent to a second scrimmage and we looked like it was a second scrimmage," Crabtree said. "Whether it's being better conditioned or whatever, there are things we need to address.
"I think that even though we had some guys make some nice plays and the score was a little bigger than we anticipated, the whole team needs to be doing more of the little things. That can be as simple as executing a block or not missing an assignment."
Liberty quarterback Mitch Fields passed for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the opener. The senior first-year starter also rushed six times for 20 yards, and senior running back Aidan Kenley ran for 51 yards and one score on 13 carries.
Junior defensive back Austin Bird recovered a fumble, and senior defensive back Joseph Dierker had an interception.
"I thought we played a lot like a second scrimmage," Hale said. "Watching film, I'm sure we both would do things over in some cases. We just have to keep getting better."
DUBLIN COFFMAN at OLENTANGY LIBERTY
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*Last meeting: 2018, Liberty 21-7
*Coffman (1-0) to date: Defeated Dublin Jerome 41-6
*Liberty (1-0) to date: Def. Olentangy Berlin 35-21
*Top Shamrocks: Hayden Austin (WR/DB), Maguire Davis (LB), Connor Mathews (QB/P), O.J. Morris (LB), Hammond Russell (DL), Toby Simpson (OL), Bryon Threats (RB/LB), Daniel Warnsman (OL), Dorian Weaver (DB) and Devon Williams (RB/LB)
*Top Patriots: Cam Barcus (WR), Jacob Bonacci (DL/TE), Mitch Fields (QB), Aidan Kenley (RB), Dom Magistrale (WR), Tyler Rosselli (RB/WR), Drew Thornton (DB), Matthew Wrather (OL) and Brian Yamokoski (LB)