The Big Walnut football team couldn’t have had a better regular season, at least in terms of wins and losses.
The Golden Eagles were rarely tested en route to a 10-0 overall mark. They won the OCC-Capital Division crown with a 7-0 record against league foes, outscoring their opponents almost four to one (453-125).
Big Walnut was so good, the computers ranked it the top team in the Region 7 playoffs, which are set to get underway tonight.
The Eagles’ reward for such a successful season, you’d assume, would be a pushover of an opponent. That’s hardly the case, though, as they’ll host 16th-seeded Olentangy (3-7) in the first round tonight at 7 p.m.
“Olentangy is an extremely well-coached team that does a great job attacking you schematically on offense with a clear and thorough plan,” Big Walnut coach Rob Page said. “On defense, they force teams to drive the ball and do not give up big plays. Their two defensive ends are outstanding players and are great at stopping the run as well as the pass.”
The Braves have been able to move the ball through the air, with sophomore quarterback Ethan Grunkemeyer running the show. Grunkemeyer has completed 165 of his 242 passes for 2,000-plus yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have been dominant on the ground as running back Nate Severs has put up video-game like stats this fall. The sophomore’s rushed for a school-record 1,855 yards on 224 carries — that’s 8.2 yards a pop. He also has 428 return yards as the team’s top kick returner and a ridiculous 33 total touchdown, another school record.
Third-seeded Olentangy Berlin (8-2) will also be competing in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, set to host 14th-seeded Wooster (5-5) tonight at 7 p.m.
“Wooster has an explosive offense that can score on any play,” Bears coach Mark Nori said. “Defensively, they give you some different looks and have guys in spots to make plays. You definitely need to do your homework.”
Over in Division I, Delaware Hayes and Olentangy Liberty will take their shows on the road for the Region 2 playoffs. The 16th-seeded Pacers (3-7) will play top-seeded Marysville (9-0) while the 10th-seeded Patriots (5-5) will travel to seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome (6-4).
“We are excited to be in the playoffs,” Hayes coach Scott Wetzel said. “Marysville is excellent … perhaps a yeoman’s labor for us. However, we get to practice an extra week. We get to experience a playoff week. There are a lot of teams that have turned their equipment in … we are still using ours.”