Hilliard Darby at Olentangy Berlin: Panthers, Bears present contrasting approaches on offense
The Olentangy Berlin football team knows what to expect when it plays host to Hilliard Darby in an OCC-Cardinal Division matchup Friday, Sept. 11.
Coming off losses to Olentangy Liberty (35-21 on Aug. 28) and Olentangy (45-33 on Sept. 4), the Bears will face a ground-oriented attack against the Panthers, who finished with 174 rushing yards in a 31-28 victory over Marysville on Sept. 4.
“They run that wing-T offense and they do it really well,” Berlin coach Mark Nori said. “They’re a very physical team, so I think we’re going to have to prepare for that as well.
“We came off two very physical games with Liberty and Olentangy, so it doesn’t get any easier for us. I think maybe the one shining spot is they have to come here.”
Against Olentangy, the Bears surrendered 341 yards rushing as Braves running back Landon Johnson ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
Berlin will be trying to stop a Darby offense led by quarterback Blake Horvath, who rushed for 94 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries against Marysville and was 11-for-18 passing for 115 yards.
Connor Jones ran for 51 yards on 11 carries, including the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left in regulation.
The Panthers, who surrendered 365 total yards of offense to Marysville, will face a different kind of challenge against the Berlin passing attack.
The Bears compiled 556 yards of total offense against the Braves, as quarterback Jacob Moeller completed 18 of 28 passes for 444 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Darby coach John Santagata said this is a style of offense the Panthers have yet to face this season.
“They’re gaining a lot of yards offensively, both running but a lot of passing,” said Santagata, whose team lost 16-12 to the Bears a year ago. “So that’s going to be a new challenge for us because we haven’t faced that yet. We faced (Hilliard) Davidson, who primarily ran the ball, and Marysville, who primarily ran the ball.
“So the key is to try to not give up the deep ball, which they’re doing a really good job throwing. They’ve got some really good athletes they’re throwing to and their quarterback is extremely accurate. So we’ll try to keep the ball in front of us the best we can and slow down their ability to run. And then obviously it’s going to be the offense’s job to keep the defense off the field as much as possible.”
HILLIARD DARBY at OLENTANGY BERLIN
•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11
•Last meeting: 2019, Olentangy Berlin 16-12
•Darby (1-1 overall, 1-0 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Lost to Hilliard Davidson 17-13; defeated Marysville 31-28
•Berlin (0-2 overall, 0-1 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Lost to Olentangy Liberty 35-21; lost to Olentangy 45-33
•Top Bears: Antonio Alonso (OL/DL), Jon Harder (OL/DL), Bennett Lawrence (WR/LB), Ethan Lee (RB/LB), Liam McGreevey (WR/LB), Jacob Moeller (QB), Colin Pethtel (WR/DB), Justin Radar (WR/DB) and Cole Troyer (OL/DL)
•Top Panthers: Jake Baird (WR/DB), Blayne Barnes (TE/DL), Sam Donnelly (OL/DL), James Hakes (RB/LB), Blake Horvath (QB/DB), Connor Jones (RB/LB), Kole Kendall (OL/DL), Luke Manche (RB/LB), Ben Marsh (RB/LB), Bradley Weaver (TE/DL) and Eric Williams (WR/DB)