Dublin Scioto at Worthington Kilbourne: Irish, Wolves primed for annual battle
The annual Battle of Hard Road is set for Thursday, Sept. 3, as the Dublin Scioto football team looks to bounce back from an opening-week loss when it travels to Worthington Kilbourne to face what appears to be a rejuvenated Wolves squad.
Scioto holds a 15-13 advantage in the all-time series - which includes three matchups in the playoffs - but has dominated the rivalry in recent years.
The Irish have won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including a 30-14 victory at home last fall, and have held the Hard Road trophy since 2016. Kilbourne's last victory was 27-24 in 2015.
"I think Scioto has just been a very successful program for the last five, 10 years," second-year Kilbourne coach Mike Edwards said. "They have a culture there of winning. They have a culture there of toughness.
"Offensively they can always run the ball well and they have explosive receivers that like to get pressure vertically and get downfield. Defensively, they are always tough."
Coming off a 33-14 victory at Canal Winchester on Aug. 28, Kilbourne is heading into this year's matchup energized.
Against Canal Winchester, which finished 9-2 and earned a share of the OCC-Capital Division title last season, quarterback Mitchell Tomasek completed 11 of 14 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 20 yards on eight carries.
He got help from running back Terrique Gray, who ran for 54 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
"From the little tape that I've seen so far, the quarterback can run the ball fairly well and he throws and has a really good connection to their receivers on deep balls," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. "We'll start with that defensively, and offensively it's going to be controlling the ball and not turning it over."
The Kilbourne defense allowed 242 total rushing yards last week - including 145 yards and a touchdown to Canal Winchester standout Stephan Byrd - but forced three turnovers and largely kept the Indians' offense in check.
This week, the Wolves will face an Irish offense led by quarterback Amare Jenkins, who completed 18 of 31 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown in a 42-28 loss to Westerville South on Aug. 28. Jenkins was intercepted three times and lost a fumble.
"The biggest thing, and I think most teams will be like this, is our biggest focus is going to be getting better from Week 1," Johnson said. "We gave up quite a few big plays and we had four turnovers - those kinds of things need to get cleaned up. So we're going to start there."
Edwards said motivation won't be an issue for his players going up against the Irish.
"For us, the only thing we know and the only thing our kids know and think about is, 'Hey, this is our big rival. This is the Battle of Hard Road,' " Edwards said. "It's going to be a very easy week to motivate the kids.
"They're hungry to get that rock back that we play for, and our focus just has to continue on being a fundamentally sound football team and ... trusting the guys around us to do their jobs."
DUBLIN SCIOTO at WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE
*When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3
*Last meeting: 2019, Dublin Scioto 30-14
*Scioto (0-1) to date: Lost to Westerville South 42-28
*Kilbourne (1-0) to date: Defeated Canal Winchester 33-14
*Top Wolves: Luke Brown (OL/DL), Cayden Dougherty (WR/DB), Mitchell Tomasek (QB/P), Terrique Gray (RB/LB), Spencer Parker-Gordon (WR/DB), Skylar Scott (WR/DB), Bryce Taylor (TE/LB) and Brian Wilson (RB/LB
*Top Irish: Ibby Abumallouh (QB), Tysen Boze (WR/DB), Xavier Jeffy, (WR/LB), Amare Jenkins (QB/DB), Maxwell Martin-Lee (OL/DL), Xavier Lopes (WR/DB), Mason Salvator (RB/LB/K/P), Koel Shaw (OL/DL), Joe Trent (TE/DL) and Vernon Williams (TE/DE)