Olentangy: Braves' Kaden Doup fits into role at quarterback

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Senior quarterback Kaden Doup has been making a strong contribution to Olentangy's offense after previously playing linebacker. "He’s doing a good job of securing the ball. He is playing within himself, and he's gotten better every week," coach Mark Solis said.

Despite playing linebacker his sophomore and junior seasons for the Olentangy football team, Kaden Doup wasn’t sure that was where he would make his desired impact as a senior. 

Seeing an opening at quarterback, a position he’d barely played, Doup approached coach Mark Solis in January and told him that was the job he wanted. 

Preparation might not have been what Doup expected, considering that team activities were halted for almost three months from March to June because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but he’s largely pleased with the results. 

Doup completed 79 of 109 passes for 905 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions during the regular season and ran for 181 yards and three scores on 54 carries, leading the fourth-seeded Braves to a 4-2 record before they played host to 13th-seeded Licking Heights on Oct. 16 in a Division II, Region 7 second-round playoff game. 

“Trent threw the ball really well. I like how he threw it but I knew I wasn’t going to be Trent,” the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Doup said of his predecessor, Trent Maddox, who threw for 2,797 yards last season with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as the Braves finished as Region 7 runner-up. “I’m more of a runner than a passer, but I’ve gotten a lot better as a passer.” 

Doup’s best passing performance of the regular season came Sept. 18, when he threw for 207 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-8 rout of Hilliard Darby. 

The youngest son of Otterbein football coach Tim Doup, Kaden said the early part of his offseason consisted of weekend film study and throwing sessions with Solis. Once the pandemic hit, Doup held as many informal sessions as possible with his receivers, whether in their neighborhoods or at Otterbein. 

“All of that considered, to do what he’s done, he’s managed the offense well and made some big plays when called upon,” Solis said, calling Doup “smart and instinctual.”

“He’s doing a good job of securing the ball. He is playing within himself, and he's gotten better every week. That’s the exact thing we preach, playing your best ball at the end of the year.” 

Doup primarily spreads the ball between receivers Caleb Gossett (21 catches, 310 yards, 3 touchdowns in the regular season), Jace Middleton (17 catches, 140 yards, 2 TDs) and Daniel Kelly (9 catches, 138 yards). 

“He’s tough and smart. He has a high football IQ,” Kelly said of Doup. “We’re running the ball a ton and at the quarterback position, there’s always that possibility he’s going to take some licks. But he gets back up and goes right back to work.” 

The Olentangy-Licking Heights winner will play fifth-seeded Uniontown Green or 12th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a regional quarterfinal Friday, Oct. 23, at the home field of the better seed. 

The quarterfinal winner will play top-seeded Massillon Perry, eighth-seeded Dublin Scioto, ninth-seeded Big Walnut or 17th-seeded Canal Winchester in a regional semifinal Oct. 30. 

Doup said he took advantage of a first-round bye to gauge his progress and evaluate improvement. 

“It’s just about my mechanics and staying calm in the pocket,” he said. “I have to trust my abilities.” 

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave