NEWARK — It’s no big secret. Newark Catholic prefers to run the football.
“As long as I’ve been here, that’s the way it’s always been,” tackle Nick Cavinee said. “When we do, it opens up the passing game a little bit.”
The first two weeks, the Green Wave leaned heavily on the pass, but returned to the run successfully in last week’s 21-20 win at Columbus Academy that left NC at 3-0 heading into its Licking County League schedule.
“We wanted to establish the run, early and often,” Cavinee said. “We worked on staying lower, holding our blocks. We have a slogan, ‘Block forever.’”
Workhorse Wes Jurden again led the way with 25 carries for 150 yards, but providing another weapon was Kyle Gibson, a 6-foot-2, 197-pound junior. He added 101 yards on 13 carries, including a 17-yard scoring run, after not carrying the ball against Nelsonville-York.
His teammates and coach were not surprised.
“He’s come up through the program with hard work, and he’s a competitor,” coach Bill Franks said. “He’s big and strong, and has good vision.”
Cavinee noted that Gibson has put on 20 or 30 pounds since 2014.
“He works hard every single day, and you don’t want to play against him,” he said. “We like to joke around with him in practice, but we love Gibby. He’s a hard-nosed, downhill runner.”
Gibson said he’s ready whenever NC calls his number.
“Our linemen put in the work,” he said. “They have the schemes down, and they do the dirty work for me.”
Division VI NC faces a huge task as it enters LCL play: a Saturday night showdown at White Field against Division II Licking Heights.
“Since midnight Saturday, we’ve been thinking about this game,” Cavinee said. “We’re used to playing a lot bigger schools. We need to be able to go out and get a win against anyone we play.
“The nonleague games get us ready for the LCL, and it’s such a tough league. In my opinion, it doesn’t get near the credit it deserves.”
It will be the ultimate test to see if his team can get to 4-0 against the Hornets, Franks said.
“We’ll see where we are on Saturday night. It will be a great crowd, a special atmosphere. They’re a solid program, don’t seem to have any weaknesses. They’re big, and they’re fast.”
Aug. 28: New. Cath. 28, @P. West 12
Sept. 5: New. Cath. 27, N-York 26, OT
Sept. 11: New. Cath. 21, @Academy 20
Sept. 19: Licking Heights, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: @Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: Heath, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: Northridge, 8 p.m.
Oct. 31: Watkins Memorial, 7 p.m.