The Dublin Jerome and Dublin Scioto high school football teams will have the area spotlight to themselves this week when they square off Thursday, Oct. 10, at Scioto in a Spielman Gridiron Classic contest.
"I would doubt that either team would have trouble getting motivated to go," Irish coach Karl Johnson said. "Anytime you're playing one of your sister schools in the district, it's pretty easy to get motivated."
Both teams enter the OCC-Cardinal Division game in contention for a Division II, Region 5 playoff berth. Scioto, which is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the league, and Jerome, which is 3-3 and 1-2, were sixth and 13th, respectively, in the region's computer ratings last week.
The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs.
"We feel like we have to go at least 7-3," Celtics coach Mark Hundley said. "For us to make it at 6-4 is pretty slim, but at 7-3 we think we'll still have a shot. We have to try to win the rest of these games to even have a chance at it."
Scioto leads the series 3-2, including a 42-23 win last season.
Jerome snapped a two-game losing streak with a 21-0 win over Westerville North on Oct. 4.
The Celtics played their second game in a row without their leading rusher in running back Steve Kidwell, who sustained a high-ankle sprain in his right foot during the first half of a 20-0 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 20. He has 444 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 71 carries.
Earlier in the week, Hundley said Kidwell's status for the game against Scioto was unclear.
Despite not having Kidwell in the lineup, the Celtics rushed for 224 yards on 42 carries against North and held the Warriors to 104 total yards, including 68 rushing on 30 carries.
Against North, running back Zack Hazlett rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and running back Alex Booth had 82 yards on 14 carries.
"For the defense, it's contain (the Celtics') running game, getting them off the field," Johnson said. "It's definitely a ball-control type offense and you want to make sure you make them drive it, but you can't let them have the ball for an entire quarter."
Scioto is looking for its third consecutive victory. It's coming off a 41-34 overtime win at Westerville South on Oct. 4.
Running back and linebacker Nick Conner helped seal the win for the Irish, as he scored on a 2-yard run on his team's possession in overtime and intercepted South quarterback Timmy Bates on the Wildcats' possession to end the game.
Against South, quarterback Nathan Densel completed 23 of 37 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and wide receiver Dan Carney had four catches for 122 yards.
For the season, Densel has completed 113 of 179 passes for 1,332 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns on 74 carries to lead Scioto's spread offense.
Running back Darius McDonald leads the Irish in rushing with 306 yards and two touchdowns on 70 carries.
"Their offense concerns me an awful lot," Hundley said. "It's about trying to get your guys in the right spots so they can make the plays that they need to make. They just have so many different formations and they put different athletes in different spots in those formations.
"You just have to see where they put everybody and make sure your guys are lined up right."