Mike LoParo is finding the OCC-Cardinal Division to be very repetitive.
The second-year coach of the Hilliard Bradley High School football team said he expects to see much of the same when the Jaguars travel to Westerville Central on Friday, Sept. 28, for a league game.
Bradley moved from the OCC-Capital to the OCC-Cardinal this season as part of OCC realignment.
"They're really good," LoParo said of the Warhawks. "It seems like every week is going to be a tough one. It's just the state of our league.
"It's hard to see a lot difference between a lot of these teams. There is a lot of parity in this league. It will be interesting to see who knocks off who as we go through it."
Central is 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal, one game behind Dublin Scioto, Hilliard Darby and Westerville South, all of which are 2-0. Dublin Jerome also is 1-1 and Bradley, Westerville North and Worthington Kilbourne are 0-2.
Bradley dropped to 3-2 overall with a 28-16 loss to South in a game that was suspended on Sept. 21 because of lightning and completed the next day. Central defeated Kilbourne 29-17 in a game that also was completed Sept. 22.
The Warhawks are led by junior quarterback Jared Drake, a transfer from Upper Arlington. He has rushed for 579 yards and six touchdowns on 65 carries and has completed 59 of 118 passes for 696 yards and seven touchdowns.
Against Kilbourne, Drake rushed for 80 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries and was 6-for-17 passing for 136 yards and one touchdown. He also plays in the secondary and sealed the victory by returning an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"The Drake kid at quarterback is really good, and they have a couple of good running backs," LoParo said. "They just have a great football team. They have playmakers on the edge. It's just another ridiculous challenge for us."
The Warhawks' featured running back is Alex Fisher, who scored on a 20-yard run against Kilbourne. Among their wide receivers is Charlie Moushey, who caught a 25-yard touchdown pass against the Wolves.
"Defensively, (Central runs) multiple fronts and they have a good defensive line from what I have seen," LoParo said. "They are just overall steady and are a good football team."
Bradley's offense is led by junior quarterback Tommy Horn, who has completed 48 of 87 passes for 704 yards and three touchdowns. Against South, he completed 12 of 29 passes for 101 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and rushed for 28 yards on 19 carries.
"They have a quarterback that can wing the football around and they sort of run the veer, which is a real big threat," said Central coach John Magistro, who improved his overall record to 200-93 with the win over Kilbourne. "They have a running back with some good speed. I saw him outrun some South kids. When you have those kinds of things going for you, it keeps them very balanced offensively."
Bradley's leading rusher is senior running back T.J. Martin, who has 299 yards on 60 carries and has scored six touchdowns. Running back Matt Bradley had a 59-yard touchdown run against South.
"Defensively, they gave South some multiple fronts," Magistro said. "They did a lot of blitzing. Obviously, blitzing is always a concern because you have to handle your assignments and responsibilities.
"They did a lot of good things. They played Westerville South very tough, so that tells you a little bit about their capabilities."
Despite losing its past two games, LoParo believes his team is ready to get back on the field to prove itself.
"We were sound schematically, but we just didn't execute when needed to (against South)," he said. "I don't think this group is one that will fold up. They have invested a lot and know there is a lot of football left to play. They realize that they are only about five or six plays from being 5-0."