The Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg high school football teams were at opposite ends of the spectrum last Friday.
North is looking to bounce back from a 42-0 loss to Pickerington Central last Friday. It was North's worst loss since losing to Ironton 48-0 in its inaugural season.
"We've called it a blackout game," North coach Tom Phillips said. "We didn't play well at all offensively, defensively and special teams. We went back to practice and tried to bring back the team."
Reynoldsburg on the other took another step in its maturation process, coming back late in last Friday's 17-14 win over Newark. On fourth-and 12 with time winding down, Reynoldsburg quarterback J.C. Gibson threw for the game-winning score on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tabeal Radney.
"We actually for the first time found a way to win a game and not lose a game," Reynoldsburg coach Steve Evans said. "The past two years we would have never won that game."
The score was another sign that Reynoldsburg's offense was coming around. North is saddled with the task of stopping a veer-option attack that has helped the Raiders average 38.3 points per game since losing to Dublin Jerome 28-0 in the opener on Aug. 27.
North is equipped to play against Reynoldsburg's offense with a defensive line led by former Raider Darien Bryant. North played against the veer-option during a 23-20 loss to Groveport on Sept. 17. North was effective enough in defending it that Groveport switched out of it.
"We did very well (against Groveport) and they beat us with the passing game and quarterback draw," Phillips said. "We just have to be sound defensively and have to stay disciplined (against Reynoldsburg). They're quarterback, he's big and he's powerful. There is no doubt we'll be tested."
Reynoldsburg's offense could be without starting fullback Talion Grace. If he can't play De'Von Bollinger should get more carries. Bollinger is a more physical style runner, but doesn't have Grace's speed. Wingback Stanley Peterson also is a threat on outside runs as well returning kicks. He's already returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns.
North's offense is still searching for an identity Phillips said. They have been banged up on the offensive line. Although linemen Pat Elflein, Alex Huettel and Luke Carothers have been consistent performers for North, those three have been shuffled around to make up for injuries to the other lineman.
North quarterback Zach Olszewski is making his third start after returning from injury. Against Groveport Olszewski threw for 238 yards. Devin Lomax had six catches for 104 yards against Groveport, and Gabriel Nimmons had five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Nimmons also played at Reynoldsburg last season.
Last Friday Central used its speed more than its size to have success against North. Reynoldsburg looks to do the same with an aggressive style.
"We have some strength with our speed and our quickness," Evans said. "We're going to continue to do what we have to move people around and move people from all different directions."