The overall records of both teams may indicate otherwise, but the first meeting between the Westerville North and Dublin Scioto high school football teams Friday at North should be intriguing.

North enters the game at 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division after defeating Westerville Central 21-17 last Friday. Scioto is 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the league and has lost four in a row, with the latest being to Westerville South 24-20 last Friday.

Perhaps the biggest key to this game will be how the North defense can handle the passing attack of Scioto. The Warriors have faced one team so far that could pass, and that team - Dublin Jerome - beat them 14-13 on Sept. 12.

"If you look at Scioto, everybody thought they'd be the team to beat in the league," North coach Chad Williams said. "They have a very explosive offense and they'll line up in a lot of different formations. And their quarterback does a great job distributing the ball and getting it downfield. They throw the ball a lot, but when they run, they run it effectively."

Leading Scioto is quarterback Charlie Suich and receivers Marco St. John and Stacey Blunt. Suich has thrown for 447 yards and four touchdowns on 46-for-96 passing. St. John leads the team in catches with 16 for 184 yards and Blunt has 10 receptions for 108 yards.

"We've been running a lot of spread and we're trying to mix up where we go with the ball," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. "We feel our strength is our skill players. We've got good guys on the outside edges and we have to continue to get them the ball."

North counters with a strong secondary of cornerback Chizo Emeaghara and safeties Chris McCluney and Matt Schaublin. In North's two wins, McCluney has intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the Warriors.

Scioto has been without Ohio State recruit Bradley McDougald the last two games and could use the services of the running back and defensive back. The Irish are unsure if he will be back for this game, with Johnson remaining vague on McDougald
"With Bradley, we'll make a decision as we go forward," Johnson said.

"At this point we're planning on him playing this week," Williams said. "You see him on film and he's a very explosive athlete. We've got some old film of him and we'll take a look at what he does and try to account for him being in there."

At the same time, North will be boosted by the return of its top running back, Justin Brewton, who was held out of the Warriors' win over Westerville Central with an ankle injury, Williams said it was mostly a precautionary measure.

"He was getting ready to go on Friday," Williams said. "He went out on it and was probably about 90 percent, but we made the decision to hold him out and get him 100 percent healthy."
Joining Brewton in a strong rushing attack for the Warriors are running backs Emeaghara and David Lomax as well as McCluney at quarterback. Having four players who can run the ball effectively is a point North wants to emphasize.

"The nice thing about Justin being out was that we could use some other guys and they got some good yardage for us," Williams said. "Now we have a few more backs we can get in there and do some good things. We always want to try to establish the run."

Running the ball has been North's strength under Williams, and this year's team is no exception as 75 percent of the Warriors' touchdowns have come on the ground.
Defending the run is something that concerns Johnson.

"At times we stack up real well and other times we don't stack up so well against the run," Johnson said. "We have to do a better job up front. Our linebackers have got to get in windows and we need to do a better job cutting off seams."

For both teams, this game will be about finding their identities. Scioto is trying to rebound after losing four games in a row. On the other hand, North is trying to turn the corner and become a winning team after going 1-9 last season.

"I'd like to say that we've played pretty well all year long," Williams said. "Our record is not what we want it to be but last Friday we learned a bit more about our team, coming back and winning that game. I don't know if I can say where we're at, but I like our football team and I think we're playing well."

"You know, they're a team a lot like us in many ways," Johnson said. "They're trying to find their identity and continue to improve. They're battling each week to get a win and we're in the same boat."