The Thomas Worthington High School football team is confident in the progress that has been made this season to build the program.

A victory over OCC-Central Division-rival Westland on Friday would solidify those strides and lift a huge burden off the Cardinals, who dropped to 0-6 overall and 0-3 in the OCC with a 49-6 loss to Dublin Coffman last Friday.

"It's very significant," coach Scott Gordon said. "We've been trying to get it for six weeks now, and it's tough to get that first one. Once you've experienced winning, you have a better opportunity to get more wins."

After losing each of its first three games by one score or less, Thomas has opened league play with lopsided losses to Upper Arlington (55-10 on Sept. 12), Hilliard Davidson (35-7 on Sept. 19) and Coffman.

"It's been a rough start, but we feel we're a good football team," quarterback Sam Bohon said. "I play three sports and have been around sports all my life, and from last year to this year, it's the biggest improvement of any team I've ever seen. We just haven't gotten any breaks."

Westland is 1-5 and 0-3, with the victory over Cleveland John Marshall 30-20 on Aug. 20. As tough as league play has been for Thomas, it may have been worse for the Cougars, who lost to Davidson 58-0 on Sept. 12, Coffman 55-0 on Sept. 19 and Worthington Kilbourne 45-17 last Friday.

Still, Gordon believes the Cougars will be formidable.

"I think it's no secret they're not a Kilbourne or Coffman, but they're a much-improved football team," he said. "(Cougars coach Brian Smith) has them going in the right direction and they could cause a lot of problems for us. This will be a game we can win, but it's a not a layup by any means."

Bohon leads a Thomas offense that has been relatively efficient through six games. The junior quarterback has completed 127 of 237 passes for 1,256 yards. Vance Frederick leads all Cardinals receivers with 508 yards, followed by Dustin Armstrong (309) and Jake Sharick (222)

The Cardinals' running game has been improving steadily. Sharick, junior Justin Dugan and senior Zach Balk have become more integrated into the offense.

"The offensive line has been outstanding this season," Bohon said. "They've done a great job protecting me which is key against a team like Westland. They don't have the biggest line but they'll hit you hard whenever they get a chance."

Westland has changed from a 3-4 defense last year to a 4-3. The secondary plays mostly cover-two.

The Cardinals' defense has been working to cut down on big plays. Through six games Thomas has given up an average of 35 points per game.

"There's no doubt that we have improved but not the the extent we want to," linebacker Michael Brankamp said. "We're always looking to better ourselves and those big passes and runs have been our Achilles heel."

Brankamp most looks forward to the direction the program is going, saying he's excited to see continued improvement.

"Some of the seniors, we're thrilled to see what this team can do in the future.

Underclassmen like Josh Fuller (NG) and Mark Chadwell (DB) are going to have a lot of success as part of teams under coach Gordon."

The kicking game has been a strength for the Cardinals. Junior Jake Szabo has connected on three field goals, including from 51 and 54 yards, and junior Josh Perger is averaging more than 35 yards per punt.