Marion-Franklin High School football coach Brian Haffele occasionally is asked what has helped his program win at least a share of the City League-South Division championship in each of his first eight seasons.
With a 58-2 record against league opponents since he took over in 2005, the Red Devils could face their final difficult hurdle to adding to that streak when they play host to Eastmoor Academy on Friday, Oct. 18.
As long as his mother, Mary Haffele, does her job on the morning of the game, coach Haffele feels good about his team's chances.
"Besides the obvious stuff that it takes good kids to win every game, the most consistent thing is that my mom makes 14 dozen cookies for our team meal every Friday," Haffele said. "She makes these homemade chocolate chip cookies and has never missed a game of ours. My kids live for those cookies.
"I feel good going into the Eastmoor game. The day she doesn't bring the cookies, I won't feel as good about it."
Marion-Franklin beat Columbus West 48-16 on Oct. 11 to improve to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the City-South. Eastmoor lost to Walnut Ridge 34-20 on Oct. 11 to fall to 4-3 and 3-1.
The Red Devils, who have beaten Eastmoor nine consecutive times, have leaned on the leadership of seniors Omar Alfred (WR/DB), Landon Yeartie (WR/DB), Shannon Royster (WR/DB), Jhulyis Monroe (RB/DB) and Willie Barns (RB/LB) since losing junior running back and linebacker Alijahwon Tarvin to a season-ending leg injury in a 27-2 win over Brookhaven on Sept. 6.
Eastmoor has one of central Ohio's top running backs in senior Martine Perez, who had 736 yards and 13 touchdowns through six games.
Senior linebackers Cameron Jackson (59 tackles through six games) and Malcolm Gilbert (62 tackles) have led the Warriors' defense.
Junior Tyler Simmons and senior Jahmal Hughes have split time at quarterback.
"We're still in the process of rebuilding this year, but we've got a couple key kids as seniors that have been very productive" coach Jim Miranda said. "We've been kind of doing it with smoke and mirrors."
Walnut Ridge lost to Marion-Franklin 22-7 on Sept. 26 but was 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league after beating Eastmoor.
The Scots are battling for a playoff spot in Division II, Region 5, while the Red Devils and Warriors are competing for spots in Division III, Region 9.
Cougars, Bearcats to meet in City-North
The Brookhaven football team will look to snap a three-game skid against Beechcroft when it travels to play the Cougars on Friday, Oct. 18.
The Bearcats beat Centennial 54-7 on Oct. 11 and are 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the City-North. The Cougars beat Columbus East 21-14 in overtime Oct. 11 and are 4-3 and 3-1.
Sophomore Macyah Fleming, who was among the area leaders in punting average at 37.0 yards through six games, took over at quarterback for Brookhaven's 46-24 win over Whetstone on Sept. 27.
Other standouts, according to coach Trevor White, have included senior two-way linemen Ne'Tronne Backus and Josh Glaze, junior running back David Peoples and senior running backs Davonte Lewis and Devon Grant.
"We wish our non-league would have been more successful, but all of our goals are still there," White said. "It's nice having your destiny in your own hands."
Beechcroft likely must win out and get help if it is to capture at least a share of its fourth consecutive City-North title and make a third consecutive playoff appearance.
The Bearcats and Cougars are in Division III, Region 9.
City League holds finals in six sports
From Oct. 9-12, six programs earned City League championships.
On Oct. 10 in Crew Stadium, the Columbus International boys soccer team beat Briggs 2-0 to capture its first league title.
Junior forward Hakim Diaw was assisted on a goal by senior Damian Dominguez just 50 seconds into the game, and junior forward Abdoul Sene scored off a pass from senior defender Thierno Diane with 10:57 left in the first half for the other goal.
In its fourth season as a program, International won the City-North at 10-1-1.
According to coach Adam Weiss, 10 of the Lions' 11 seniors have been with the program since its inception.
"This means everything for our school," senior midfielder Alpha Freeman said. "That's history right there."
Whetstone scored 33 points to capture the boys cross country title Oct. 9 on its home course. Centennial's Kevin Adams won the individual title in 16:54.
In girls cross country, Centennial scored 33 points to edge Whetstone (41) for the title, while Northland was third (97). Centennial's Kate Ryan was first in 20:03 and Northland's Mackenzie Pahren was second in 20:47.
"It's a good way to finish out my senior year," Pahren said.
Whetstone also beat Centennial 7-0 to win the girls soccer title Oct. 10 in Crew Stadium and was first in the boys golf tournament, shooting a 168 on Oct. 9 at Airport. Centennial placed second (180) and Briggs (217) was third.
In golf, Briggs' Kyler Hogle joined Whetstone's Carson Matthews, Dylan Matthews and Quentin Pruneau and Centennial's Phil Pezzatta as first-team all-league.
Briggs lost to Centennial 25-22, 25-14, 25-15 on Oct. 12 in the City girls volleyball championship match.
The Bruins, who last made it to the league final in 2010, have been led by seniors Nolla Harris (outside hitter), Sarah Sharfenaker (outside hitter), Sam Rainey (utility), Chasity Sammons (middle hitter), Terri Caldwell (libero) and Anna Phillips (defensive specialist) and juniors Maegen Henderson (middle hitter) and Julie Russell (setter).
"We just went on a roll," said coach Herb Sharfenaker, whose team was 15-7 overall after losing to Centennial. "This group of seniors we had was something else."
EASTMOOR at MARION-FRANKLIN
•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
•Last meeting: 2012, Marion-Franklin 6-0
•Eastmoor (4-3 overall, 3-1 in City-South) to date: Defeated Westland 42-7; lost to St. Charles 48-8; lost to Thomas Worthington 35-12; def. Columbus West 58-6; def. Briggs 36-9; def. Columbus South 42-28; lost to Walnut Ridge 34-20
•Marion-Franklin (6-1 overall, 4-0 in City-South) to date: Def. Upper Arlington 26-7; def. Brookhaven 27-2; lost to Hartley 28-14; def. Independence 44-18; def. Walnut Ridge 22-7; def. Africentric 57-6; def. Columbus West 48-16
•Top Warriors: Cameron Jackson (LB), Martine Perez (RB/DB/P), Jaylen Smith (OL) and Jaylen Woody (RB)
•Top Red Devils: Jhulyis Monroe (RB/DB), Martesse Patterson (OL/DL), Justin Tyler (QB) and Landon Yeartie (WR)
BROOKHAVEN at BEECHCROFT
•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
•Last meeting: 2012, Beechcroft 20-0
•Brookhaven (5-2 overall, 4-0 in City-North) to date: Def. West 49-20; lost to Marion-Franklin 27-2; lost to Central Crossing 10-7; def. Northland 29-28 (OT); def. Whetstone 46-24; def. Linden-McKinley 33-0; def. Centennial 54-7
•Beechcroft (4-3 overall, 3-1 in City-North) to date: Def. Dayton Dunbar 14-0; lost to Dublin Jerome 26-14; lost to Walnut Ridge 24-0; def. Whetstone 15-8; def. Linden 81-6; lost to Mifflin 21-20; def. Columbus East 21-14 (OT)
•Top Bearcats: Macyah Fleming (QB/P), Bruce Foster (RB/LB), Paul Hughes (TE/LB) and David Peoples (RB)
•Top Cougars: Adonis Davis (RB/LB), Darius Ford (WR/DB), Khalor Franklin (RB/LB) and Mike Powers (QB/DB)
WHETSTONE at NORTHLAND
•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18
•Last meeting: 2012, Northland 34-28
•Whetstone (4-3 overall, 2-2 in City-North) to date: Def. South 42-32; def. Africentric 40-0; lost to Whitehall 32-18; lost to Beechcroft 15-8; lost to Brookhaven 46-24; def. East 44-26; def. Linden 36-0
•Northland (5-1 overall, 3-1 in City-North) to date: Def. Independence 20-18; def. Cincinnati Taft 36-30; lost to Brookhaven 29-28 (OT); def. East 64-20; def. Centennial 55-6; def. Mifflin 42-7
•Top Braves: Justus Barnett (LB), Darius Bester (DB), Ramroth Finnegan (QB) and Jeremy Polk (OL)
•Top Vikings: Jhustus Cornley (WR/DB), Nateshawn Hargrove (RB/LB), Malcolm Marshall (WR/DB) and Abu Turay (RB/DB)