Watkins Memorial High School football coach Jeff Severino planned to spend significant time emphasizing to his defense the importance of containing Olentangy Orange quarterback Corey Joe.

The way Severino sees it, how effective his defense is at limiting the yards Joe gains on the ground could determine the outcome of the OCC-Capital Division game Friday at Watkins Memorial.

Orange and Watkins Memorial enter the contest with identical records. Both are 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Capital victory. The Pioneers have lost four consecutive games and the Warriors have lost three in a row.

"We don't want (Joe) running around," Severino said. "We have to try to keep him contained. It's a matter of discipline on defense, taking care of your responsibility. He can hurt you running the ball. But he can flat-out throw it, too."

Joe is the primary playmaker in Orange's spread offense, which was not implemented fully by the Pioneers until a 28-7 loss to Big Walnut on Sept. 19. He is coming off a solid performance in a 30-21 loss to New Albany last Friday, as he threw for 168 yards and a touchdown - connecting with wide receiver Chase Swisher on a 58-yard score - and scored touchdowns on runs of 22 and 4 yards.

But Joe did throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Despite the fact that Orange has lost four games in a row, Severino is impressed with what he has seen from the Pioneers on videotape.

"(Coach Brian Cross) has done a great job with them," he said. "Even though they have no seniors, they're playing well."

Watkins Memorial's offense, which primarily works out of the I formation, is led by 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back Matt Truex, who rushed for 1,011 yards on 166 carries last season. His best performance so far this year came in the opener, when he ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 28-7 win over Westland on Aug. 22.

"He's our workhorse," Severino said. "He's running very hard right now."

Truex also is a scoring threat on special teams. He had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 41-14 loss to Licking Heights on Aug. 29.

Other key players for the Warriors include Marshall Berry (OL/DE), Spence Fenner (DE), Ricardo Hall (WR/CB), Clay Nixon (QB), Tyler Richardson (TE/SS), Mike Shroyer (FS) and Sean Trent (OL/DT).

In a 41-14 loss to Delaware last Friday, Truex scored on a 16-yard run and Nixon and Richardson connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors trailed 20-14 at halftime.

"It's just a matter of playing four quarters," said Severino, who is in his first season as coach after spending the last 25 seasons at Watkins Memorial as an assistant. "We play well for two, three quarters, but then we have a seven-, eight-minute lapse. It's a matter of being confident in what you're doing. Good teams don't let bad things that happen bother them. They do not get down on themselves."