Leslie K. Norman

November 3, 2011

[caption width="250" caption=" "][/caption]

Like anything else, football has its intricacies. At its core, though, it’s a simple game.

To win, you have to score more than your opponent. And to score, generally speaking, you have to have the ball.

Sounds simple enough, but Olentangy Orange coach Brian Cross knows both will be a challenge when his eighth-seeded Pioneers take on the top-seeded Wildcats of Hilliard Davidson in Saturday’s Division I regional quarterfinal.

“Davidson is a very, very good team with a good defense,” the coach said. “Some people say this is the best defense they’ve ever had. That said, somehow, someway, we have to move the ball and score. If we don’t, we probably won’t get many possessions on offense.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” Cross added. “We made the move to D-I and now get to play a team that’s won the state championship multiple times.”

What makes Davidson (9-0) twice as problematic is when you couple its offensive style with the stout defense. The Wildcats play a possession game, keeping the ball on the ground — mostly with runs by running back Alex Mickley — while melting the clock.

“They’ll do what they do against everyone,” Cross said. “They control the clock and limit possessions. Against Darby (21-0 win in Week 10), they took the opening kickoff and kept the ball for almost 10 minutes on their first drive. On top of that, I think Darby only ran 11 plays in the second half. They just run the football and are very well coached.”

With the challenge glaringly apparent, Cross said his Pioneers (8-2) know exactly what they need to do come Saturday.

“Offensively, we’ve taken care of the ball,” he said. “Our quarterback, Kofi Hill, has just one interception all year, and that’s been a huge factor in our success. We’ll need to continue to protect the ball to win. Defensively, we have bent, but not broke. Same thing goes for Saturday.”

It’ll be up to Hill, a steady offensive line and the likes of running back Brandon Schoen, full back Michael Forbes and receivers Luke Wolford and Daniel Bull to try and score against the Davidson defense, which has given up just 28 points all season.

Fortunately for Orange, its playmakers have been tough to handle all season long. Hill has completed 36 of his 71 passes for 699 yards while tossing eight touchdowns and just the one interception. Schoen, meanwhile, is Delaware County’s leading rusher, running for more than 1,200 yards (10.1 yards-per attempt) and 22 touchdowns.

Both teams know what they need to do, now it’s time to see which squad goes out and does it. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Hilliard.