Grove City at New Albany: Dawgs, Eagles to meet for first time
On one hand, there will be some unfamiliarity when the Grove City and New Albany football teams face off Friday, Sept. 4, in the OCC-Ohio Division opener for both teams.
On the other hand, the Dawgs and host Eagles largely know what the other wants to do.
"We're similar in that we both run the wing-T, but we have our work cut out for us to emulate what they do offensively. They throw in some wrinkles and then they're fast and physical defensively," Grove City coach Matt Shaul said. "What they do, they do well."
The Dawgs are coming off a 7-6 win at crosstown rival Central Crossing on Aug. 28.
That same night, New Albany scored the final 10 points of the game to edge visiting Lancaster 20-13.
As was the case last week for the Eagles against the Golden Gales, this will be New Albany's first meeting with Grove City.
New Albany comes in shorthanded, however, as senior running back Mechi McCaulley -- who was expected to lead the Eagles' ground attack -- suffered a broken collarbone early in last week's game and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and perhaps the first week of the playoffs.
McCaulley ran for 1,355 yards and nine touchdowns on 161 carries as a junior.
In his absence, Jayden Fudge rushed for 203 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. The senior was a starting cornerback last year.
"Jayden and Mechi are best friends and I know it motivated Jayden to play for him," New Albany coach Bubba Kidwell said. "I'm proud of how we performed, especially in the second half. We expect our returning starters, our big guys, to step up and make big plays and that's exactly what they did. We grew from that game and we're going to continue to improve."
The Eagles held a 323-317 edge in total yards, with 292 yards coming on the ground. They took the lead for good on Brock Tibbitts' 32-yard touchdown pass to Owen Wilcox with 8 minutes, 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
New Albany forced three turnovers, two fumbles and an interception by linebacker Tyler Van Meter, without committing any.
Against Central Crossing, Grove City fell behind 6-0 early in the second quarter when Brodie Musto returned an interception of Zakk Tschirhart 15 yards for a touchdown but hung close throughout and tied the game with 5:47 left on Christian Isaacs' 2-yard run. Tyler Lantzy's extra point proved to be the difference. That came after a blocked punt by Michael Hooffstetter.
Central Crossing drove to the Grove City 8-yard line with 5 seconds left but Tyler Terrell missed a would-be game-winning 25-yard field goal.
The Dawgs were outgained 169-103 but sacked quarterback Rudy Risinger twice in defeating Central Crossing for the second consecutive year.
Defensive lineman Dennis Chideya had a team-leading 6.5 tackles, five of which were solo, and Cole Becker had an interception.
"Our special teams saved us a lot of yards and put us in great field position and our defense came up huge," Shaul said. "We played with a lot of tenacity. It was an all-around team effort."
Kidwell said this week will be a rarity in that the Eagles are facing a wing-T team for the second consecutive game.
"Grove City might be a little bigger up front than Lancaster, but they're very similar," Kidwell said. "It's nice to have two weeks in a row not only against teams that run the same thing, but it's the same thing that we run. It's helped our young guys to run our system more and learn how to stop it, too."
GROVE CITY at NEW ALBANY
*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4
*Last meeting: First meeting
*Grove City (1-0) to date: Defeated Central Crossing 7-6
*New Albany (1-0) to date: Def. Lancaster 20-13
*Top Dawgs: Austin Allmon (TE/DL), Cole Becker (RB/LB), Carter Binford (WR/DB), Justin Catalfina (WR/DB), Christian Isaacs (RB/DB), Trevor Mills (RB), Zach Nelson (RB/DB), Zakk Tschirhart (QB) and Hayden Yerian (RB/LB)
*Top Eagles: Jayden Fudge (RB), Ian Hoff (LB/K), Collin Johnson (OL/LS), Brock Kidwell (RB/QB/DB), Mechi McCaulley (RB), Brock Tibbitts (QB/P), Tyler Van Meter (RB/LB), Jaron Webster (OL) and Owen Wilcox (WR/DB)