Westerville South at Dublin Scioto: Wildcats, Irish ready to renew league rivalry

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Zion Freeman-Walker (right) is among the top returnees for Scioto, which will play host to Westerville South on Friday, Aug. 28.

Once members of the OCC-Cardinal Division, the Dublin Scioto and Westerville South football teams will renew their league rivalry in Week 1.

Playing an abbreviated, six-game regular-season schedule because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the teams will meet in an OCC-Capital contest Friday, Aug. 28, at Scioto.

The Irish and Wildcats competed in the OCC-Cardinal from 2008-15 before playing non-league games in 2016 and 2017. The teams split those two contests, with Scioto winning 24-15 in 2016 and South winning 50-14 in 2017.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series 8-6

"It's a great opening week," South coach Matthew Christ said. "You better show up and play your best football if you want to have an opportunity to win. We're looking forward to the challenge. With everything going on in the world, we're just excited to have an opportunity to continue to compete, compete against somebody else and try to have some taste of normalcy for our young people."

Both teams run spread offenses and should feature solid skill-position players.

Scioto senior Xavier Lopes is being counted on to help replace 2020 graduate Tobias Thomas at wide receiver.

"We've watched a lot of film," Lopes said. "They have a lot of speed, but I feel like we can stay with them just off of our alignment. Hopefully the offense can get it done and score a few times. ... We're good at playing fast. We have a fast offense."

Senior Ibby Abumallouh and junior Amare Jenkins competed in the preseason to replace another graduate, Chad Ray, at quarterback.

Seniors Joe Trent (TE/DL) and Vernon Williams (TE/DE) are other key players.

"I respect coach (Karl) Johnson a lot," Christ said. "They're not going to make big mistakes that allow the game to get blown open one way or another. Our whole thing at South is we're going to keep the focus on us and work to be 1-0."

South should be led by senior quarterback Peter Pedrozo, who missed the second half of last season with a broken right collarbone.

Junior Kaden Saunders, who has committed to Penn State, is a key receiving threat.

Both teams compete in Division II, Region 7. South qualified for the playoffs last fall, losing to Toledo St. John's 42-34 in the first round to finish 6-5. Scioto went 4-6 and did not qualify for the playoffs.

With the abbreviated schedule this season, all teams are eligible for the postseason.

"It's important (to get out to a good start)," Lopes said. "We can't come out slow or that will probably set the tone for the whole season. We have to come out and go crazy."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

WEEK 1

WESTERVILLE SOUTH at DUBLIN SCIOTO

*When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28

*Last meeting: 2017, South 50-14

*Top Wildcats: Brandon Armstrong (RB/DB), Matthew Bame (WR/K/P), Zane Boszor (LB), Jesse DeVore (WR/WB), Elvis Gyabeng (H-back/DL), Tyler O'Reilly (OL/DL), Devin Oteng-Achamfour (HB/DL/LB), Peter Pedrozo (QB), Kaden Saunders (WR/DB) and Javi'er Wills (WR/DB)

*Top Irish: Ibby Abumallouh (QB), Tysen Boze (WR/DB), Xavier Jeffy, (WR/LB), Amare Jenkins (QB/DB), Maxwell Martin-Lee (OL/DL), Xavier Lopes (WR/DB), Mason Salvator (RB/LB/K/P), Koel Shaw (OL/DL), Joe Trent (TE/DL) and Vernon Williams (TE/DE)

Junior receiver Kaden Saunders is among the top players for the Wildcats, who open at Dublin Scioto on Friday, Aug. 28.