Marysville’s Colton Powers brings down a Hilliard Darby ball carrier. The Monarchs will play at Thomas Worthington on Friday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)
It has long been said about football that offense draws the attention of a lot of fans.
However, it’s defense that builds the basis for a program.
The Marysville Monarchs have been an absolute terror when it comes to stopping an opposing team.
Through six games, the unbeaten and state-ranked (No. 5 in Division I) Monarchs have yielded an average of less than 180 total yards of offense per game.
It’s been difficult to move the ball either on the ground or through the air against MHS, which will travel to Thomas Worthington (2-4) on Friday.
Opponents are averaging 120 yards on the ground and less than 50 through the sky.
Teams’ troubles moving the ball have translated into a mere 33 points yielded by the Monarchs during that time.
Marysville will face a Cardinal offense that likes to go with an aerial attack.
“They run out of the spread and will pass the ball about 70% of the time,” said Marysville head coach Brent Johnson. “Their quarterback (Caleb Ortega) is sound, which is what we’ve seen most of the time this season.
“Their offensive line is average in size, but we’re going to have to win this game in the trenches.”
The Cardinals have lost games to Westland (21-11) and Dublin Jerome (36-18), two teams which the Monarchs have easily handled this season.
They have tallied 105 points, most of which have come in their two victories.
Thomas Worthington beat neighboring Worthington Kilbourne (2-5) 21-10 and pummelled winless (0-7) Newark 41-14 a few weeks ago.
The Cardinals have a solid running back in Anthony Brewu. He amassed 253 yards on the ground during the victory over Newark.
What he is able to do against a much more stingy defense like Marysville’s remains to be seen.
“Our linebackers are going to have to play the run, but also be ready to drop back into pass coverage,” said Johnson. “We’re going to have to play the entire field.
“Thomas Worthington is very pass heavy, whereas most of the teams we’ve faced this season are running squads.”
Regardless of what type of offense the Monarchs face, Johnson likes his defensive unit.
“We don’t give up a lot of points,” he said. “We’ve also been able to maintain discipline on all three levels (line, backers and secondary).
“We tackle well and take good angles to the ball.”
Thomas Worthington employs a base 44 defense, but can also quickly switch to a 50 front.
“That’s based on what other teams will give them,” said Johnson. “Their linebackers run downhill very well, but their ends are the strength of their team.
“That’s where we like to attack with our offense, so we are going to have to block their ends very well.”
Johnson said his offense, which has been based primarily on the ground game (an average of 230 yards per game), will have to get off to a fast and clean start.
By clean, the coach said the Monarchs still have to work on eliminating penalties and putting the ball on the ground.
Johnson said that while penalties and turnovers haven’t been deciding factors in any game, they are still areas of concern.
“We’ve still made some errors when we’ve gotten into the red zone,” said the Monarch boss. “We’ve been able to overcome them so far, but it’s something that could catch up to us.
“We have to get better taking care of the football.”
Johnson said the MHS offense must continue to stay ahead of the sticks and finish drives.
The defense will also have to be physical and get off the field on third down.
Although there has been playoff talk around town for much of the season, Johnson said the Monarchs can’t allow that to become a distraction.
He said the team has much left to do during the regular season before it can start to think about the D-I post-season.
“I know there has been some looking ahead,” said Johnson. “However, we still have a 1-0 mentality and it’s a process of getting better every week.
“We have to keep our chins down and our noses to ourselves.
“Right now, we just want to focus on defending our Ohio Capital Conference championship.”