Pickerington Central: Tigers look to build on opening win
While it may be tough for the Pickerington Central football team to nitpick a blowout win over its biggest rival, it enters its matchup Friday, Sept. 4, at Newark at least with a better focus on where it needs to improve.
The Tigers are coming off a 35-9 victory Aug. 30 over visiting Pickerington North in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 and are facing a Wildcats team that lost its opener 30-0 to Thomas Worthington on Aug. 28.
Throw in that Central is 19-2 all-time against Newark, including winning the last 14 meetings, and there's every reason to expect that the Tigers will attempt to keep things simple and work on cleaning up mistakes from their opener.
"What was nice was just getting to play," coach Jay Sharrett said. "We didn't get to play until Sunday. We watched all these other teams play Thursday and Friday and Saturday. I thought our guys came out really quick, we were clicking and got up 14 points and then got up 21.
"To North's credit, they weren't done playing football and fought us a little. I don't know if it's just the uncertainty of it, but we uncharacteristically mishandled the ball. We probably had more turnovers than half of what we'll have the whole season (in the opener). Now we can watch it on film, learn from it and at the end of the day we're 1-0 and we couldn't be happier about it."
Central fumbled it away on the fourth play from scrimmage against North but put together an 80-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Nick Mosley on its next possession.
The Tigers' C.J. Doggette then fell on a fumble and Central scored three plays later on a 30-yard run by senior Garner Wallace, who was making his first start at quarterback.
Two plays after North pinned the Tigers at their own 1 on a punt midway through the second quarter, Wallace was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Central also lost a fumble late in the second quarter.
Still, there was much to celebrate for players like Wallace and sophomore free safety Alex Styles, who missed all of last season with a cracked shinbone.
Styles had an interception in the first half and then blocked a punt that he recovered in the end zone to make it 28-2 late in the third quarter.
Wallace rushed for 98 yards and threw for 65 yards after serving as the No. 2 quarterback last fall.
Newark went 0-10 in 2015, including losing to Central 42-14 in the last meeting between the programs, before bouncing back to go 5-5 in 2016.
Since that time, however, the Wildcats have gone a combined 4-27.
Bill Franks is in his second season as Newark's coach.
"I was on defense last year so I know what it's like coming in," Wallace said. "We've got to straighten some things out on offense, but for the most part, coming in without a game scrimmage, I think we did pretty good (against North)."
PICKERINGTON CENTRAL at NEWARK
*When: Friday, Sept. 4
*Last meeting: 2015, Central 42-0
*Central (1-0) to date: Defeated Pickerington North 35-9
*Newark (0-1) to date: Lost to Thomas Worthington 30-0
*Top Tigers: C.J. Doggette (DL), William Dukes IV (LB), Tyler Gillison (LB/TE), Nick Mosley (RB), A.J. Sanders (DB), Sirron Smith (DB/RB), Keaton Snyder (OL), Lorenzo Styles Jr. (WR/DB) and Garner Wallace (QB)
*Top Wildcats: Giovanni Aber (RB), Trei Dansby (WR/DL), Gabe Madden (OL/LB), Garret Ramsey (WR/DB), Payton Sherrard (OL/DB), Jake Sherman (QB) and Hunter Vogel (RB)