First place in the OCC-Cardinal Division will be on the line Friday, Oct. 25, when the Hilliard Darby High School football team visits Westerville Central.
Both teams are 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the league.
The game will feature two of the top spread offenses in the area, as the Panthers are averaging 32 points and the Warhawks are averaging 51.3 points.
Central has scored at least 41 points in every game since opening with a 29-7 win over DeSales on Aug. 30.
"They're very athletic," Darby coach John Santagata said of the Warhawks. "They do a lot of things offensively that score a ton of points. It's going to be a big challenge for us. They're a very explosive offense, but that's what it's all about. It's fun for our coaches. It's fun for our kids."
Last season, Darby defeated Central 29-7 on its way to winning the league title at 7-0. It was the first meeting between the teams.
"One of our goals after our first three games is we start talking about the OCC," Santagata said.
"We never look past opponents. We won't necessarily say this is for the league championship because obviously that would be unfair to (Hilliard) Bradley (in the regular-season finale Nov. 1). We never try to look past anybody, but this is the next step in trying to get that OCC championship against a very good football team."
The game features two teams that are contending for Division I postseason berths.
Darby was expected to be tied with Miamisburg for 12th in the Region 2 computer ratings this week, and Central was projected to be seventh in Region 1. The top 16 teams in each region qualify for the playoffs.
Senior quarterback Nate Green leads Darby's balanced attack, as he has completed 36 of 57 passes for 554 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 528 yards and nine touchdowns on 122 carries.
Running back Lorenzo McLaurin has rushed for 504 yards and eight touchdowns on 114 carries.
"(The Panthers) just do everything right," Central coach John Magistro said. "They're fundamentally sound and they want it to be a short football game."
Darby's defense, which is led by linebacker Trevor Parker's 58 tackles, will attempt to do something that hasn't happened often this season: contain Jared Drake.
Central's senior quarterback has completed 111 of 172 passes for 1,761 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions and rushed for 565 yards and six touchdowns on 89 carries.
"Darby is going to be a bigger game," Drake said after Central beat Westerville South 54-35 on Oct. 17.
"I know they're tough (and) they handed it to South (52-17 on Oct. 11).
"They're definitely a good team, they have a lot of good players, but we have to do everything we can to come out right from the start, non-stop, and hand it to them. I'm looking forward to that game."
Running back Alex Fisher has rushed for 589 yards and 13 touchdowns on 95 carries. Wide receivers Cedric Frierson (384 yards), Micah Lowe (380), Eldin Anu (370) and Tommy Mansfield (314) have been Drake's top targets.
"They are very explosive (and) they are very fast," Darby senior lineman Josh Huffman said. "They have a lot of athletes at a lot of different positions. Our defense is going to have to work real hard and be prepared for that."
Davidson set to battle Thomas
Davidson coach Brian White believes that his team will be facing a dangerous opponent when it travels to Thomas Worthington on Friday, Oct. 25, for an OCC-Central Division game.
The Cardinals ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the league with a 43-6 win over Central Crossing on Oct. 18.
Thomas, which is aiming for its first winning season since 1999, has a balanced offense led by running back Tony Harvard, who has rushed for 1,153 yards and 15 touchdowns on 184 carries, and quarterback Danny Gordon, who has completed 88 of 168 passes for 1,267 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.
"Thomas has a tremendous running back. We know him real well," White said of Harvard. "We're going to be at their place on that (field) turf, which we played on down at Beavercreek (in a 35-7 win on Sept. 13). ... Our kids will welcome that opportunity to get out of the mud a little bit. (The Cardinals) have a lot of kids back from last year."
Davidson rallied in the second half to defeat Olentangy Liberty 28-7 on Oct. 18 to improve to 8-0 and 5-0.
The Wildcats are first in the ThisWeek Super 7 poll and were ranked seventh in the Division I state poll last week.
Davidson's option attack has been led by running back D.D. Clark, who has rushed for 901 yards and nine touchdowns on 143 carries. Running backs Phillipie Motley (342 yards, 3 TDs) and Markus Bailey (272 yards, 8 TDs) also have been key contributors to the Wildcats' ground game.
"This game will be our most challenging of the season," Thomas coach Scott Gordon said.
"Davidson is again an outstanding football team (that) is very well coached. They do a great job of executing their philosophy and embody the team concept. They love to capitalize on teams trying to do something different in order to beat them. This usually works against teams as they get away from what they do best."
Bradley looks to stay in OCC-Cardinal race
Bradley hopes to remain in the OCC-Cardinal Division race when it plays host to Dublin Scioto on Friday, Oct. 25.
Hilliard Darby and Westerville Central lead the league at 5-0, with the teams meeting Friday, Oct. 25. Bradley is 4-1 and Scioto is 3-2.
Bradley improved to 5-3 overall after outlasting Westerville North 21-20 on Oct. 18. The Warriors, who are 2-6 overall, scored with 2 minutes, 1 second to play but missed the extra point that would have tied the game.
Bradley plays at Darby on Nov. 1 in the regular-season finale, while Scioto closes at home against Canal Winchester.
Against Westerville North, Bradley senior quarterback Tommy Horn was 10 of 17 passing for 87 yards with touchdowns of 11 yards to senior wide receiver Ryan Reffitt and 10 yards to junior slotback Trey Anderson.
Senior running back T.J. Martin ran for 98 yards on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown that proved to be the decisive score.
Horn added 55 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Scioto is 5-3 after losing to Darby 28-17 on Oct. 18.
Nathan Densel completed 18 of 29 passes for 168 yards with a 5-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Justin Schafer and one interception. The junior quarterback also had 52 yards rushing on eight carries.
Senior running back Darius McDonald returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score and had eight receptions for 64 yards.