If the Olentangy Orange High School football team opened the season the way it has played down the stretch, the Pioneers may have been playing for a Division II Region 7 playoff berth Friday when Delaware invades Friday.
Instead, only pride is on the line as both teams play for the final time in 2010.
Orange has won three games in a row by an average score of 40.3-9.3. The Pioneers are 5-4 overall and 4-2 in OCC-Capital Division play after beating Watkins Memorial 39-14 on Oct. 8, Franklin Heights 41-14 on Oct. 15 and Hilliard Bradley 41-0 last Friday.
Meanwhile, the Pacers are 1-4 since opening 2-2. They have been outscored 172-68 en route to a 2-4 league record, which means they have been outscored by league opponents 28.7-11.3 per game.
If comparing scores is a good indicator, senior night will be a huge success at Orange. For example, Delaware went 2-1 against Orange's last three foes, but the scores were much closer. The Pacers beat Franklin Heights 28-13 and Bradley 28-24, and lost to Watkins Memorial 40-0. Delaware is coming off a 41-3 loss to New Albany last Friday. The Pioneers fell to the Eagles 28-21.
Orange has rushed for 258.7 yards per game over its last three games, despite blowouts which limited the number of plays for its starters. For instance, the Pioneers led Bradley 35-0 midway through the second quarter last Friday when coach Brian Cross replaced his starters.
Orange junior Brandon Schoen ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries last Friday and has 263 yards on 25 carries in the past three contests. Senior running back Jacob Vacheresse has run for 393 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries in the past four games.
Senior quarterback Jared Leet was 8-for-9 passing for 189 yards and scored on an 11-yard run in the first quarter against Bradley.
In its loss to New Albany, Delaware trailed 27-0 at halftime, despite holding a 34-14 margin in offensive plays. The Pacers strung together some first downs, but failed to put points on the board. Delaware has some size, but does not possess big-play capability.
New Albany's offense exploited Delaware's lack of speed as well, scoring four times in its 14 plays, with drives totaling 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Individually, those touchdowns consumed 2:00, 13 seconds, 8 seconds, and 1:09.
So a key matchup this week should be Orange's explosiveness against Delaware's size. The Pacers, under third-year coach Mike Loparo, also average nearly five turnovers per game. In order to overcome such numbers, the defense has to be prepared to play "quick change," which means staying focused and prepared to return to the field on every play.