GRANVILLE — Granville’s Saturday showdown at Jackson is for Division III, Region 9 supremacy, and the Blue Aces’ discovery of their running attack couldn’t have come at a better time.
They rushed for 228 yards, including 176 on just 11 carries by freshman tailback Brandon Haley, in their 42-20 win against Heath. Haley had touchdown bursts of 55 and 73 yards, sophomore Michael Reed reeled off a 33-yard TD run on fourth down, and senior Thaddeus Winston added a 3-yard scoring run.
“The offensive line takes a lot of pride in it, and it’s been frustrating the last two weeks,” coach J.R. Wait said. “Sheridan had a good run defense, and we had the muddy field at Eastmoor, but we still feel like we could have run it better.”
The line made a concerted effort to get Haley at least 100 yards.
“We were really focused on it in practice,” junior guard Nick Kurek said. “We maintained our blocks better, kept our feet moving and it all came together for us.”
“We wanted 100 yards, and we surpassed that,” added sophomore center Grant Porterfield. “We talked about it all week. We’re known for our passing, but we love to surprise teams with our running game. It helped get us ready for next week, when we’ll need everything we can against Jackson.”
Granville’s bread and butter remains the passing attack, which will look to flourish on the turf at Jackson after two weeks of wet fields. Kyle Zies has thrown for 471 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
A lot is at stake in a Division III region where both teams are 3-0, with the Blue Aces ranked first and the Ironmen fourth. In 2012’s trip to Jackson, Granville ended the Ironmen’s 21-game regular season winning streak. This time around, the Blue Aces will try to halt that streak at 16.
Jackson has beaten Wellston 41-20, Chillicothe 19-16 in overtime and West Jefferson 38-17. Against West Jeff, quarterback Hunter Sexton threw a 63-yard TD pass to wideout Austin Leach and also had a 25-yard TD run. Reagin Conley, a 6-foot-2, 204-pound bruiser, added scoring runs of 1 and 11 yards.
“It’s a big game against a good team, and the rest of the team is excited,” Porterfield said. “It gives us a chance to show how good we really are.”
Aug. 28: Granville 24, Sheridan 21
Sept. 4: Granville 11, @Eastmoor 8
Sept. 11: Granville 42, Heath 20
Sept. 19: @Jackson, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25: Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: @Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: @Licking Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: Watkins Memorial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: @Licking Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: Lakewood, 7 p.m.