Halfway through the 2010 season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School football finds itself stuck in a log jam in the OCC-Ohio Division.

Halfway through the 2010 season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School football finds itself stuck in a log jam in the OCC-Ohio Division.

Gahanna is 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio after losing to Lancaster 30-28 last Friday. The Lions are tied in the division with Groveport (4-1 overall), Lancaster (2-3) and Reynoldsburg (3-2). Pickerington Central (4-0) and Grove City (2-3) lead the standings at 2-0, with Pickerington North (2-3) and Newark (1-4) at the bottom at 0-2.

Although the Tigers are tied with Grove City, they still are the team to beat, meaning second place is the realistic goal for the others.

However, with the second spot likely will come a ticket to the Division I playoffs, which would be a good consolation prize.

For Gahanna to accomplish that, they likely would have to win four of five, starting with a game Friday at Central, and then hope the other 1-1 teams fare no better.

"Obviously we're going to have to win some games," coach John Snoad said. "There's no question these last five games, there are a lot of points to be had. I think that's something that's on everybody's mind as they approach it.

"Our kids have done a great job other than the Mason week (28-14 loss on Sept. 10). I don't feel that we were focused that week. Other than that, we've been on task. And the Lancaster game was a big game for us, even though we came up short."

The Lions had a conversion pass batted down late in the game against the Gales. Despite the loss, senior quarterback Tanner Zwelling said he is seeing signs that the Lions are capable of putting together a streak that would culminate with the team's first playoff berth since 2007.

"We just have to keep playing togetheras a team," he said. "And everybody has to keep doing their part. Our offense finally scored some points on Friday night, so we just need to keep that up so we can help out the defense some more."

A mid-week move to a spread-oriented offense paid dividends for the Lions. Zwelling passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and added 65 yards rushing with two more rushing scores.

Gahanna has been in the playoffs five times since 2001, and the back-to-back 4-6 records in Snoad's tenure isn't what neither he nor the Gahanna community wanted or expected, but he is seeing progress being made toward getting back to those playoff standards.

"We've faced some incredible adversity with injury, that no one anticipated," he said. "We lost several offensive linemen in August, and we are just starting to get some of them back.

"We had anticipated being a much larger offensive front, and we've had to really adjust. So we've tried to be very creative with our offense. There's been a slow evolution back towards the spread offense and Friday night we unveiled an empty package and had really good success with it.

"The kids came out and executed a great game plan. They believe in the system, they believe in what we're doing and they executed just masterfully, I thought."

Stepping into a full-time role on the offensive line has been senior offensive guard Jake Snyder. Initially only expected to see part-time duty on the line, Snyder's duties became full-time as injuries took their toll.

"He ended up assuming a full-time role, and he's done a heck of a job," Snoad said.

Junior offensive guard Brian Snoad, who was expected to split the part-time duties with Snyder, has assumed a full-time guard role as well.

Another player making an unexpected move because of an injury to a teammate is senior offensive tackle Nick Rozler. Originally slated for the guard position, he has made the move outside to tackle and performed well.

Coach Snoad also has been pleased that his team seems to have bought into what he and his staff are trying to build.

"We've had just tremendous attendance. Our kids are there every day and it hasn't always been that way the first couple of years. This group of kids have really committed themselves to being here.

"You can't have success until you have your kids bought in. And they paid their dues in the offseason. A lot of these kids have really worked hard. We had a great winter and a great spring and a really solid summer."

In an effort to start getting the kids in the community acclimated to his program at an earlier age, coach Snoad and his assistants make it a point to get them involved.

Coach Snoad always attends the season finales of the middle school teams and also attends each team's banquet. The eighth-graders are then invited to the high school in April for instructional weight training.

Coach Snoad and his staff also hold a coaches clinic every year for the lower-level coaches as well as asking them to come and help coach at the Gahanna football camp. The staffs are provided with the Gahanna playbook and the latest drill manual.

Another positive sign has been the play of the defense. A year ago, the Lions allowed an average of 26.3 points a game. That figure includes a three-game stretch where they allowed only 10 total points. Five times, they allowed at least 33 points.

This season, they are allowing 19.5 points a game, with a high of 30.

A year ago, the Lions opened with a 38-0 loss to DeSales. This year, they lost 28-14. A year ago, Lancaster won 42-31.

Helping to improve the defense have been several young or previously inexperienced players.

Sophomores Granyl Smith along the defensive line and Mitchell Rowell at linebacker have impressed coach Snoad. Rowell leads the team with 23.5 tackles.

"They are a pair of real up-and-comers," coach Snoad said. "They have really stepped up and played well."

Two more players who are helping solidify a defensive secondary hurt by graduation are junior Tyler Grassman and senior Isaac Callion.

"Grassman has been a huge player for us at safety, and Isaac Callion, who didn't play for us last year, has done a fantastic job," coach Snoad said. "(Callion) hasn't missed a day and has worked his tail off."

Coach Snoad also spoke highly of senior defensive end Kameryn Carter.

"He has been amazing. He played linebacker his junior year and had an up-and-down season. He actually made a request to play strong-side end for us, and he's just been a man there. He's done some great, great things."

The Lions already have improved in another facet of the game. In three of the first four games, Gahanna was penalized more than 10 times, most of which were offensive holding calls, accumulating more than 100 yards. Against the Gales, the Lions had three penalties for only 16 yards.

To the Lions, everything is coming together and there is an aura of confidence surrounding the program.

"Our defense has been very good throughout the season," Zwelling said. "And the offense is finally putting some points on the board. So now our offense and defense justneed to bring it all togetheron the same night, and we'll be set.