The last time the Beechcroft and Northland high school football teams were in a similar position was 2006.

The Cougars and Vikings had faint playoff hopes but were tied for first in the City League-North Division at 5-1 before Beechcroft won the regular-season finale that season 8-0.

This season both teams are 7-2 overall. The Cougars are 6-0 in the City-North, and the Vikings are 5-1.

There could be even more on the line when the teams meet Friday at Northland.

Beechcroft still has a strong shot at the Division II, Region 7 playoffs and is looking to earn its first outright City-North championship after clinching a share of the title with a 29-12 win last Friday over Centennial.

The Vikings would need a win and help to make the Division I, Region 3 postseason, but a victory would give them a share of their first conference title since 1996.

Northland has never qualified for the playoffs, while Beechcroft last made the postseason in 2008.

Last season, the Cougars defeated the Vikings 21-7. Northland last beat Beechcroft in 2001 (19-7).

"We can't control the playoffs," Cougars coach Bruce Ward said. "We just have to concentrate on winning at Northland and usually the team that wins the City-North makes the playoffs. Northland's pretty solid all around and just has all of the tools. They've got a good running game and a good defense, and really they're a lot like us."

Both teams are giving up an average of fewer than 10 points to league opponents. Ward expects Northland's defense - led by linebackers Kevin Grove and Martrise Maddox and backs Jarrell Jones and J.J. Sanders - to be difficult to score against because of its aggressiveness.

The Cougars possess one of the most balanced offenses that Northland has faced this season. Quarterback Sheldon Akin hasn't played the last two weeks for unspecified reasons but is expected to be on the field Friday. He is 50-for-95 passing for 691 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Maurice Hale filled in during Akin's absence and could split time at the position Friday.

Wide receiver Austin Davenport has more than 30 receptions, including 10 for touchdowns. Running back Dai'Ron Glover has 822 yards rushing. Shaquille Minnifield rushed for 223 yards last Friday against the Stars to up his season total to 311.

"They're quick up front and in their secondary," Ward said. "I think (Hale) earned the right to play. Obviously Sheldon is a talented quarterback, but with him being out two games he's going to have to work his way back in."

Northland also should benefit from the recent return of Sanders, who has been out for the last several weeks because of an injury, according to coach Kevin Tooson.

Senior Jarrell Jones, who has verbally committed to play for Miami University, became the go-to running back with Sanders on the bench and has 870 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Sanders has 546 yards and five touchdowns, and Marquan Barnes has contributed 404 yards and six scores.

The Vikings also made a midseason quarterback switch, with Jermayne Harris (9-for-17 passing for 190 yards, three touchdowns) now taking most of the snaps. Tre' Bias also has seen action in recent weeks behind center in place of Myles Taylor-Hicks, who has moved to defensive end.

"Jermayne Harris and Tre' Bias have been splitting time because they just process the passing game quicker (than Taylor-Hicks)," Tooson said. "Jones looked a little ginger out there for a couple weeks, but he's 100 percent now."