Olentangy Orange football coach Zebb Schroeder wanted to keep the ball away from visiting Westerville Central and its prolific offense.
The Warhawks, who averaged close to 24 points per game coming in, had key players that went both ways. Schroeder thought he could take advantage of that.
“If you look at their schedule, they’ve put up a lot of points against a lot of good defenses,” he said.
“We have a lot of one-way players and they have some two-way players. We just wanted to keep their offense off the field and really grind the running game and we were able to do that tonight.”
Boy was he right.
The Pioneers ran 59 times out of 64 total plays on offense, racking up 366 yards on the ground en route to a 35-10 OCC-Buckeye win Thursday night in Lewis Center.
Seniors Graham Starn (216 yards on 25 carries) and Jack Applegate (106 yards on 17 carries) did much of the heavy lifting for the Orange offense.
“We’re really fortunate with the amount of seniors that we have … we have a lot of depth,” Schroeder said. “We’re really fortunate to have, what we consider, three varsity backs in Starn, Applegate and (Mark) Roberts. We feel like any of those guys can shoulder the load.”
Starn scored twice and Applegate added another rushing touchdown.
“It’s crazy,” Starn said. “But, without my o-line, I couldn’t have done it. Those guys just really fought hard tonight and stayed low and drove until the whistle. It’s just my job to read (the holes). Without those guys, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Quarterback Luke Schmeling completed three of his five passes, including two for touchdowns and receiver Manny Anderson caught all three balls for 62 yards and both scores.
It was so run heavy that Westerville Central packed the box on a play in the fourth quarter, leaving Anderson uncovered. Schmeling audibled out of the play and lobbed a ball to Anderson for an easy 21-yard touchdown.
“We had a power play called and Luke Schmeling – he’s very poised under center. He saw it and spit it out there to Manny,” Schroeder said.
Zane Fisher had 7.5 tackles, Zach Harrison had 5.5 – including three for losses and 2.5 sacks. Garrett Runyon, Jimmy Sensibaugh, and Joel Sarpong each had interceptions for the Pioneer defense.
Jayden Rodgers blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt late in the second half to preserve an Orange 14-7 lead at the break.
Allen Smith paced the Warhawks with 122 yards on the ground on 21 carries and a touchdown and Jacob Borcilla had a 25-yard field goal.
Next, Orange hosts rival Olentangy Liberty in league play next Friday at 7 p.m. The Patriots won twice last year by seven points apiece.
“I’m sure our guys have a little extra motivation there,” Schroeder said. “But, this is a new team and a new year. I think it’ll be a big one because it’s the next one.”
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