Last season, football parity reigned in the OCC-Cardinal Division, as Dublin Jerome, Olentangy Liberty and Westerville South high schools shared the league championship at 5-2.

Of the eight teams, four qualified for the postseason -- Marysville in Division I and Jerome, Liberty and Olentangy in Division II.

Olentangy (4-3), Marysville (4-3), Dublin Scioto (4-3), Westerville North (1-6) and Westerville Central (0-7) followed the tri-champions in the final standings.

Followers of the division can expect a similar race this season, as every team appears to be competitive.

"I would guess there might be a similar scenario, where we are knocking each other off and the champion might have one or two losses," said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team will compete in Division I this season. "It's going to be a tough year for everybody."

Jerome coach Mark Hundley and Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger expect another wide-open race, with Marysville and South emerging as the teams to beat.

"I hear Westerville South is loaded," Hundley said. "Marysville is going to be much improved. As I look at who we have in the league, those right now are the teams that I see toward the top and then you can't ever count out Scioto and Liberty."

"In our division, I think Marysville and Westerville South are the two teams to beat," Terwilliger said. "Marysville returns an enormous amount of talent which has been with (coach Jeff) Gafford for three years now. (Marysville has) got some great running backs and quarterbacks returning to run his offense. Westerville South is just very, very athletic."

Marysville returns nine players with starting experience in the triple-option offense, including senior quarterback Luke Fleming and senior fullback Nathan Weeks, who was first-team all-district after rushing for 982 yards and 12 touchdowns on 175 carries.

"To win the league, you've got to grind every week," Gafford said.

"Right now there are six known quantities, five games for us and two completely unknowns. The two Olentangys are going to be solid, the two Dublins are solid, Westerville South is always going to be solid, so there are five you know who are going to be good."

South senior quarterback Jonathon Jennings, who started the final two games last season, will direct the offense.

The Wildcats appear to be loaded on defense, as nine starters return.

"It's going to be a dogfight for the top of our league," South senior center Mike Bell said. "All the teams can climb to the top of the league. We're going to try to come out on top."

Marysville will play host to South on Oct. 9.

The division features several good community rivalries , such as Jerome against Scioto, Liberty against Olentangy, and Central, North and South against one another.

Scioto, which has 34 seniors this fall, played a role in forcing Jerome to settle for a share of the title by defeating the Celtics 42-14 in week nine.

The Dublin teams will meet Oct. 23 at Scioto.

"We're always looking forward to that game just because we used to coach there and worked with all those guys," said Hundley, a former assistant at Scioto.

South needed double overtime to defeat North 30-24 in week seven, leading to its share of the title. North travels to play at South on Oct. 16.

Central and North will be under new leadership, as veteran coach John Magistro has taken over the Warhawks and Mike Owens will guide the Warriors.

The Warhawks will play host to the Warriors on Sept. 25. South will visit Central on Sept. 18.

"Obviously we would like to be the king of Westerville and have an opportunity to beat South and Central," Owens said. "I know our guys are going to be looking forward to those games."

Liberty and Olentangy hooked up in another competitive battle in the sixth week last season, with the Braves winning 21-16. The teams will renew their rivalry Oct. 2 at Olentangy.

Magistro, 60, brings a wealth of experience to his new position, as he attempts to help the Warhawks rebound from a winless season. Magistro compiled an 181-76 record in 23 seasons at Division IV power Bellaire, where he holds the school record for victories.

Magistro, who was an assistant at Olentangy the past two seasons, will get a chance to face his former team when they meet Oct. 16 at Olentangy.

Owens served as the offensive coordinator at Hilliard Darby the past two seasons and guided Mechanicsburg to an 11-2 record in 2006.

"It's a fantastic league from top to bottom," Owens said. "The coaches are excellent coaches. I've had a chance to coach against a couple of them the last two years when I was at Hilliard Darby.

"Just from my understanding of the league itself and just how competitive it is, and being able to see that on film once I got the position in the spring, we obviously have our work cut out for us. There's definitely not an off week in that league. It's a great, competitive and fun league to be in."