By Michael Rich
Olentangy got off to a fast start and cruised to a 49-7 victory over host Delaware Hayes to wrap up a second consecutive OCC-Capital title Friday night in Delaware.
“It’s an accomplishment and I’m proud of our kids,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. “But, we’re not where we want to be — we want to win a state championship.”
Without running back Cam Kennedy for the second straight game, Olentangy (9-1, 7-0 OCC) used a combination of Seth O’Neal and Ali Iverson, with Jimmy Elmurr helping out with short yard situations — including two rushing touchdowns — to build a 14-0 lead.
“Our offense is our offense,” Solis said. “We’ve gotta plug guys in … it’s next man up. We were able to do that and it was a good thing.”
Iverson led the rushing attack with 107 yards. Elmurr only rushed for 10 yards, but scored three times.
Meanwhile, quarterback Deeb Haber completed multiple passes to seven different receivers, tossed touchdown passes to three and went 22-for-24 with 252 yards. He credited his offensive line for allowing him time to throw.
“It always starts up front,” he said. “I mean, I sat in that pocket forever it seemed like, like I’m just floating. Our receivers are getting better at getting open. They’re really learning how to get off blocks and find open spaces.”
Derrick Wyche, O’Neal and Jacob O’Donnell benefited with touchdown catches for Olentangy.
Obi Anunike led the team with 80 yards receiving and six catches, Wyche had 51 yards and O’Donnell added 33.
O’Neal rushed for 45 yards and added 34 receiving.
Haber’s only mistake in the first half was also his only incompletion as he went 19-for-20 to dissect the Hayes defense. Josh Hyatt jumped his pass late in the second quarter for a pick.
“We’re clicking as a team,” he said. “We’re learning each other’s ways and clicking pretty good.”
The defense was stalwart, holding Hayes to 120 yards of offense and five three-and-outs. Elmurr led with seven tackles.
“(Olentangy) is really a good football team,” Pacers coach Mike Golden said. “The one thing we’ve been able to do this year is run, but we were worried about their d-line. They were really good, so those matchups didn’t work for us.”
A 40-yard TD pass from Cullen Moore to Anthony Rodgers that went over the top was the highlight of the half for the Pacers, who trailed 14-7 after one.
Even with the loss, the Pacers (5-5) ended up with two more wins than last season, which Golden compared to building a house.
“We’re building it slowly,” he said. “You build it slowly, brick-by-brick. I think you’ll see growth every year from here on out. We’ve got our whole line back … a lot of kids back. I think we’ll be in good shape.
Ethan Tucky led the Hayes defense with seven tackles, including a sack, and added 23 yards on the ground on offense. He is headed off to Boston College.
“He meant a lot,” Golden said. “I’ve been lucky, I’ve coached 52 Division I players and Ethan’s not just another one. He’s not the most talented kid I’ve coached, but his effort — I can’t compare anyone to his effort. It’s been incredible.
“And that’s a great example — when a kid is that good and that talented and that great of an example to those below him, that’s a great gift to a program. I’m going to miss him greatly.”
Zach Slade scored his first career touchdown and rushed for 42 yards on six attempts as Olentangy ran out the clock late.
Olentangy will find out who it will play in the first round of the Division I playoffs later this weekend. The Braves made it to the Division II final four last season.
“(The OCC title) feels awesome,” Haber said. “Now we take it one game at a time. Last year we made a mistake by looking at what’s going to happen later, later, later. We’ve got to take it week by week.”
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.