New Albany at Westerville Central: Eagles look to bounce back against surging Warhawks
As evidence that Westerville Central had quickly righted the ship after its only loss, someone within the program shared an impressive statistic with coach Brent Morrison following a 56-7 win at Westland on Sept. 25.
“We’ve scored more points than we’ve given up rushing yards (the past three weeks),” said Morrison, whose team has won three in a row after falling 34-20 to Pickerington North on Sept. 4. “Our front seven is dominant right now, but our secondary is really improving. All of those are guys who are new. They understand how important they are and they’re doing a great job, including in run support.”
At 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division, the Warhawks will play host to New Albany on Friday, Oct. 2, in the first meeting between the teams since 2015.
Central has outscored its past three opponents 133-7, including giving up just 15 rushing yards three weeks ago against Gahanna.
New Albany fell to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league with a 56-21 home loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 25, as the Panthers clinched at least a tie for the OCC-Ohio championship.
Warhawks quarterback Judah Holtzclaw completed seven of nine passes for 179 yards and five touchdowns at Westland as Central bolted to a 33-0 first-quarter lead. Running back Michael Ross had six carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
New Albany was outgained 577-242 by North and trailed 28-0 late in the second quarter. The Eagles gave up 377 yards rushing, committed two turnovers and allowed 50 points for the first time since a 57-50 win over the Warhawks in 2013 and just the third time this century.
Lead running back Jayden Fudge was held to 21 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and caught three passes for 18 yards and another score. Quarterback Brock Tibbitts completed 12 of 16 for 135 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
“We saw (Sept. 25) what a playoff team looks like at the Division I level. We know where we need to get and I told the guys we can get there this year,” New Albany coach Bubba Kidwell said. “We’ll fix this. We’ll get it right.”
Central leads the all-time series 5-4, and each of the previous nine meetings were Week 2 non-conference games.
NEW ALBANY at WESTERVILLE CENTRAL
•When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2
•Last meeting: 2015, Central 41-37
•New Albany (3-2 overall, 2-2 in OCC-Ohio) to date: Defeated Lancaster 20-13; def. Grove City 23-7; lost to Gahanna 42-41 (OT); def. Westland 49-0; lost to Pickerington North 56-21
•Central (4-1 overall, 3-1 in OCC-Ohio) to date: Def. Upper Arlington 28-23; lost to Pickerington North 34-20; def. Grove City 34-0; def. Gahanna 43-0; def. Westland 56-7
•Top Eagles: Braeden Elwer (TE/OL/LB), Jayden Fudge (RB), Jaydn Garnes (FB), Ian Hoff (LB/K), Collin Johnson (OL/LS), Brock Kidwell (RB/QB/DB), Brock Tibbitts (QB/P), Tyler Van Meter (RB/LB) and Owen Wilcox (WR/DB)
•Top Warhawks: M.J. Davis (WR/DB), Vince Francescone (LB/LS), Zeke Healy (RB/LB), Judah Holtzclaw (QB), Will Jados (OL), Braeden Murray (DL), Michael Ross (RB), Luke Swaney (WR/DB) and Mason Toomey (C)