Olentangy at Hilliard Darby: Braves, Panthers tune up for league meeting

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
Running back Malik Wade and Olentangy will go for a 4-0 start when the Braves visit Hilliard Darby on Friday, Sept. 18.

The Olentangy football team will play Hilliard Darby for the fifth year in a row when the Braves visit the Panthers on Friday, Sept. 18, but this will be the first time they face off in the realigned OCC-Cardinal Division.

Despite his team’s familiarity with the Panthers’ wing-T offense, Olentangy coach Mark Solis said the Braves will have to come prepared.

“We’ve got to have a great week of practice,” said Solis, whose team beat Thomas Worthington 43-7 on Sept. 11 to improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal. “We’re healthy. We’ve improved on some things last week, which is encouraging.

“But this is a different animal. These guys, if there’s such a thing as a really good 1-2 team (it’s them). They easily could be 3-0 right now.”

The Panthers dropped to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 48-41 loss at Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 11, but their two losses have been by a combined 11 points.

“I think we’re at a point now where we sort of have to focus on ourselves,” said Darby coach John Santagata, whose team also lost 17-13 to Hilliard Davidson on Aug. 27. “From a defensive standpoint, we’re not doing a lot of things well at the moment. It’s costing us games, obviously.

“So it’s like we sort of have to go back to the basics and make sure we’re working on fundamentals — getting off blocks, reading keys and things along those lines. Obviously, (the Braves) are a pretty big challenge and their offense is pretty potent.”

Olentangy quarterback Kaden Doup completed nine of 14 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown against Thomas, as the Braves finished with 296 yards of total offense. His scoring pass went to Landon Johnson, who led the Braves with three receptions for 74 yards.

Malik Wade led the Braves in rushing with 59 yards on 12 carries, Johnson added 24 yards and two scores on two carries and Jace Middleton added a 9-yard scoring run.

Olentangy’s defense chipped in against Thomas, returning two interceptions for touchdowns.

“They’re flying around and they’re playing disciplined football. I think their offense is very different and well-run,” Santagata said. “I think coach Solis does a really good job with that offense. Defensively they have an identity, they’re playing well, and they’re a really good football team.”

Darby’s wing-T attack compiled 480 total yards against Berlin, with 347 yards rushing and 133 yards passing.

Quarterback Blake Horvath ran for 295 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries and completed nine of 17 passes for 133 yards with an interception.

Connor Jones added 38 yards rushing on nine carries, and Matthew Sech caught four passes for 70 yards.

“Because it’s so non-traditional and you don’t see this kind of offense week in and week out, our scout team’s got to do a tremendous job of giving us great looks in practice,” Solis said.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

WEEK 4

OLENTANGY at HILLIARD DARBY

•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18

•Last meeting: 2019, Darby 23-13

•Olentangy (3-0 overall, 2-0 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Defeated Olentangy Orange 7-3; def. Olentangy Berlin 45-33; def. Thomas Worthington 43-7

•Darby (1-2 overall, 1-1 in OCC-Cardinal) to date: Lost to Hilliard Davidson 17-13; def. Marysville 31-28; lost to Olentangy Berlin 48-41

•Top Braves: Kaden Doup (QB), Jason Feasel (OL/DL), T.J. Gadd (OL/DL), Caleb Gossett (WR/DB), Ethan Hand (TE/DL), Landon Johnson (RB/LB), Daniel Kelly (WR/DB), Jace Middleton (WR/LB) and Toby Wilson (OL)

•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)