Though the fifth week of the high school football season doesn't determine any league championship outright, it can have major implications for teams looking to win a league title.
That's the case when Canal Winchester travels to Amanda-Clearcreek on Friday in an MSL-Buckeye Division game. Five weeks remain in the season, however, the annual game between the Aces and Indians has been an instrumental factor in the league race.
Last year Amanda-Clearcreek won 7-0. It was the only league loss for the Indians, but the Aces took the momentum from that game to finish undefeated and reclaim the league title.
Friday's game promises to feature more offense than last year's one-touchdown contest. Though Amanda-Clearcreek lost its top two running backs -- Garren Dilley and Tyler Gierhart -- to graduation, the Aces still feature a prominent running game, led by Chet Saum. However, the presence of quarterback Jarrad Bennett is enough to keep the Indians' defense honest. In last Friday's 35-0 win over Circleville, Bennett had touchdown passes of 15 and 25 yards in addition to his 44-yard touchdown run.
"Jarrad does a really nice job of leading their offense," Canal Winchester coach Phil Mauro said. "He's a good athlete, but he also throws a good ball as well."
Canal Winchester counters with a first-year starter at quarterback in Drew Black. Though Black is new to the lineup, he's played like a veteran. In last Friday's 41-0 win over Fairfield Union, Black threw for 147 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Both teams enter the game 4-1 and 2-0 in the league, each having lost their season-openers. Mauro sees no difference from the Aces now to a year ago, aside from the head coach. In the offseason, amid concerns about a potential failure of the levy, former coach Ron Hinton, who led the Aces to two state titles and 16 playoff appearances, left to coach Chillicothe. Defensive coordinator Dale Olney took over in his place.
"They're very similar to the way they were last year, and they're still very well-coached," Mauro said. "It's definitely going to be a great challenge for us."