Little went right for the Olentangy Braves on Friday night as the Marysville Monarchs bruised their way to a 28-7 victory and an OCC-Cardinal Division championship.
Running back Ryan Kern led the way for the Monarchs, piling up 185 yards and three touchdowns for a Marysville offense that simply overpowered the Braves for four quarters.
Following the game, Olentangy head coach Mark Solis didn’t mince words in addressing his team, saying the entire game boiled down to which team was the bigger and stronger group.
“They’re just bigger and stronger than we are,” Solis said. “Ultimately, that’s on me. We have to do a better job in the weight room. (Marysville) has a darn good football team … my hat is off to them. It wasn’t anything we didn’t do well, it was more about what (Marysville) did well.”
Marysville wasted no time setting the tone for the game, taking the opening kickoff and putting together a 15-play drive that chewed up more than six minutes of the opening quarter. On fourth and goal from the Olentangy 4-yard line, Kern busted into the end zone to open the scoring, and the extra point gave the Monarchs the early 7-0 lead.
Olentangy’s ensuing drive, its first of the game, began with a delay of game, a sign of the struggles to come for the Braves’ offense. Quarterback Kaden Doup was sacked on third down, forcing a Braves punt to end the drive.
The defense forced a three-and-out on Marysville’s next drive, but the offense was again unable to muster much of a drive on its next possession. After picking up its first first down of the game, Olentangy was thwarted on fourth and two from the Marysville 48-yard line, turning the ball back over to the Monarchs.
One play later, Kern was racing into the end zone from 52 yards out to increase Marysville’s lead to 14-0 just a minute into the second quarter.
In desperate need of a drive, Solis dialed up some trickery on what looked like another failed Olentangy drive. Facing a fourth-and-14, and the punt team on the field, Doup took the snap as the up man and found Brady Ramsey for a 51-yard catch and run to give the Braves new life.
But as was the theme throughout the night, Olentangy was still unable to sustain offense as a holding call on second down put it behind the chains and ultimately forced a punt.
Another long, 13-play Marysville drive ended with Kern’s third rushing touchdown of the first half, pushing the lead to 21-0 just before halftime. Kern finished the first half with 108 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Olentangy mustered just 121 total yards in the half.
A Marysville turnover gave Olentangy momentary life early in the fourth quarter when linebacker Mike Parsio recovered a fumble near midfield to give the ball back to his offense.
Set up with great field position, Doup found Daniel Kelly for 27 yards to start the drive, and another Doup completion had the Braves in the red zone for the first time in the second half. Doup finished off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Gossett, cutting the Marysville lead to 21-7 with 6:37 remaining in the game.
Marysville would put away the conference crown on Olentangy’s next possession, however, when Monarch safety Logan Neer intercepted Doup’s pass. Neer returned the interception 75 yards to the end zone, ending any chance of an Olentangy comeback.
“They kicked our tails up front,” Solis said of his defense’s inability to slow down Marysville’s rushing attack. “If you don’t win the battle up front, you’re going to have a hard time winning football games, and we didn’t do a good job of that tonight.”
Solis said he felt coming in that his team would need to play a perfect game in order to win, a credit to how good of a team he feels Marysville is.
With the loss, Olentangy drops to 4-2 to end the regular season. The Braves will have a bye next week before opening postseason play on Oct. 16.
While the Braves fell short of winning the division, Solis said there is still plenty to play for moving forward. He said their job as coaches will be to guard their players against getting too down following the loss, knowing their ultimate goal is still in front of them.
“We have a lot to play for,” Solis said. “The so-called second season is coming up, and we’re going to do the best we can. We’ve found a way to do some things in the playoffs the last couple of years, and that’s our job as coaches, to get these guys ready. They have a lot to play for and we like the draw, so we’ll see what happens.”