At times, the Upper Arlington High School football team has looked like one of the area's best Division I teams.

At times, the Upper Arlington High School football team has looked like one of the area's best Division I teams.

In consecutive weeks, for instance, the Golden Bears beat Worthington Kilbourne (22-21 on Sept. 25), Hilliard Darby (10-7 on Oct. 2), Newark (52-6 on Oct. 9) and Olentangy Orange (21-16 on Oct. 16). However, UA also had some discouraging performances, including a 17-9 loss to Thomas Worthington on Sept. 18 and a 24-7 loss to Findlay on Sept. 11.

For coach Mike Golden, the difference is simple: when the Golden Bears are "physically and mentally healthy," they play well.

Heading into Friday's home game with Dublin Coffman, Golden said he can count on his team being healthy in at least one respect.

"Mentally, we'll be ready," Golden said. "For us, it is a playoff game. It's our only chance to make it. If we win, we'll be in. The kids will sell out."

UA enters the game at 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Central Division. The Golden Bears were expected to be ninth when the Division I, Region 3 rankings were released, but a win over Coffman would all but assure them of a spot in the top eight.

Coffman, meanwhile, is 9-0 and 4-0 in the OCC-Central and has clinched a home game in the Division I, Region 3 playoffs. As far as the postseason is concerned, little is at stake for the Shamrocks, but for the players, Friday's game is far from meaningless.

"If we win this next game, we win the league," linebacker Brett Buehler said. "Undefeated OCC champs. That's our motivation going into this last game. They beat us on our senior night here last year. We're going to their place, last regular season game. It's big."

The toughest task for UA will be generating offense against a Coffman defense that has allowed 30 points all season and had four shutouts. The Shamrocks are experienced and healthy at all positions on defense.

"They're just outstanding at getting to the ball," Golden said. "They really hustle to the ball. They're a veteran defense, and really the whole team is overwhelmingly seniors, and it shows."

As is expected with UA, the Golden Bears have done most of their damage this year on the ground, particularly since quarterback Kyle Cassady went down with a broken collarbone a month ago. Running back Kyle McSheffery leads the team with 738 yards and seven touchdowns at 6.3 yards per carry. Running back Drew Karram has 514 rushing yards and four touchdowns at 4.9 yards per carry.

Jake Johns has taken over at quarterback and has thrown for 387 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

The Coffman offense has not slowed much since the season-ending injury to quarterback Cole Stoudt three weeks ago. Last Friday in a 35-0 win over Worthington Kilbourne, quarterback Colton Caldwell completed 19 of 31 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Caldwell, at 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, also has shown to be a threat to run. The former tight end has 116 yards rushing in the past three games.

Coffman's running game has kept opponents off balance. Shaun Jones has 847 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

The UA defense has been a constant power ever since a season-opening 52-0 loss to national power St. Thomas Aquinas. The Golden Bears allowed an average of 14.4 points per game and have not allowed more than 24 points in any game since the opening.

"I think coach Golden is a good tactician," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. "He recognizes what you do well and tries to take that away. I think that's why they've been successful. Upper Arlington is good anyway, but I just think you put him in there and it makes them that much better."