New Albany at Gahanna Lincoln: Eagles, Lions to meet for first time in league matchup

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Ronald Blackman and Gahanna Lincoln will play host to New Albany on Friday, Sept. 11.

For the first time in four meetings, the Gahanna Lincoln and New Albany football teams will have more than bragging rights on the line when the Lions play host to the Eagles on Friday, Sept. 11.

The teams from neighboring districts were realigned into the OCC-Ohio Division beginning this year, and the winner will maintain at least a share of first halfway through the regular season.

“It’s a pretty intense rivalry. We want to beat them, and they want to beat us,” Gahanna offensive lineman Tommy Bailey said. “A lot of our guys know each other and this would be a good win for us. It seems like we always play close games.”

Gahanna, New Albany and Pickerington North all won their league openers Sept. 4.

The Lions overcame an early 7-all tie to rout host Westland 49-7 for their first victory, and the Eagles pulled away from visiting Grove City to win 23-7 and improve to 2-0.

Against Westland, Gahanna’s Ronald Blackman rushed for 255 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries and had a fourth score on one of the two blocked punts the Lions returned for touchdowns.

Quarterback Trey Burger completed nine of 17 passes for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Linebacker Jaden Yates made a team-leading 10 tackles, including a sack.

“They have a lot of athletes. (Burger) is a very accurate quarterback but we really like (Blackman),” New Albany coach Bubba Kidwell said. “He’s one of the best running backs we’ll see this season. When you look at Gahanna, you know what you’re getting. They have speed but they’re also strong up front.”

A balanced offense led the Eagles, who will play their first road game, past Grove City in their league opener. Jayden Fudge rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, Brock Kidwell added 21 carries for 113 yards and a score and quarterback Brock Tibbitts completed 13 of 17 passes for 158 yards.

Tom Bohman and Peyton Henze each had fumble recoveries.

“They run a lot of the same things they’ve run against us before,” Bailey said. “We have to come out and focus on our execution.”

Gahanna leads the all-time series, which began in 2016, 3-1. The Lions defeated the Eagles by four, 20 and one point in their first three meetings, the last victory coming in double overtime. New Albany won 41-17 a year ago.

“Until you come out on the winning side of the scoreboard, it’s really not a rivalry,” Kidwell said. “We’d had the chance to win a few games (against Gahanna) but beating them last year was huge for our program.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

WEEK 3

NEW ALBANY at GAHANNA LINCOLN

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11

•Last meeting: 2019, New Albany 41-17

•New Albany (2-0 overall, 1-0 in OCC-Ohio) to date: Defeated Lancaster 20-13; def. Grove City 23-7

•Gahanna (1-1 overall, 1-0 in OCC-Ohio) to date: Lost to Reynoldsburg 48-14; def. Westland 49-7

•Top Eagles: Braeden Elwer (TE/OL/LB), Jayden Fudge (RB), Ian Hoff (LB/K), Collin Johnson (OL/LS), Brock Kidwell (RB/QB/DB), Brock Tibbitts (QB/P), Tyler Van Meter (RB/LB), Jaron Webster (OL) and Owen Wilcox (WR/DB)

•Top Lions: Ricky Alli (RB/LB), Tommy Bailey (OL/DL), Kane Baker (WR/DB), Trey Burger (QB), Ronald Blackman (RB/DB), Mondra Curry (RB/LB), Mykohl Martin (OL/DL), Brendan Raymond (WR/DB) and Jaden Yates (RB/LB)

Jayden Fudge and New Albany will play at Gahanna Lincoln on Friday, Sept. 11.