After consecutive losses dropped the New Albany High School football team below .500, the Eagles took a step back and realized all their goals are still in play after defeating Hilliard Bradley 47-14 in the OCC-Capital Division opener last Friday.

After consecutive losses dropped the New Albany High School football team below .500, the Eagles took a step back and realized all their goals are still in play after defeating Hilliard Bradley 47-14 in the OCC-Capital Division opener last Friday.

The Eagles improved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Capital with the win, and bounced back after losing to Westerville North 34-28 on Sept. 4 and DeSales 13-6 a week later.

"After those two losses, we just wanted to get on a roll, and we did that with our first OCC game," said Chandler Tunney, who opened the scoring last Friday with a 45-yard touchdown catch from Joe Morlan.

Watkins Memorial fell to 1-3 and 0-1 in the OCC-Capital with a 27-7 loss to Big Walnut last Friday.

New Albany, which is 2-1 against Watkins Memorial since the Eagles joined the OCC in 2006, won last year's contest 20-6.

The Eagles dominated with their running game last season and looks to do the same Friday, but Watkins Memorial coach Jeff Severino isn't buying the Eagles' wing-T as a run-only offense anymore.

The Eagles have developed an effective passing game that puts outside linebackers in a bind.

"They run one way and then fake run one way and counter back to the receiver coming across the formation," Severino said. "It's tough. (The outside linebacker) needs to stay home and that's tough to do. It's tough when they want to move over and help against the run."

The Eagles rushed for 342 yards last Friday. Morlan threw four times for 135 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Gallegos.

Gallegos also had touchdown runs of 22 and 13 yards. He started at running back for an injured Ben Imlay. Imlay could return Friday or Oct. 2 against Olentangy Orange.

Both Imlay (5-foot-9, 182) and Gallegos (5-8, 165) have provided the counterpunch to the power running game of fullback Alex Hake (5-11, 210). Hake had over 130 yards rushing in the first two games, but wasn't needed as much Friday since the Eagles pulled their starters for the second half.

Watkins Memorial's offense is similar to New Albany's in that the Warriors will run a lot of power plays out of two-back sets.

Bryce Phillips and Aaron Hix are the featured running backs. Phillips rushed for 111 yards on 12 carries in Watkins Memorial's 30-17 loss to Licking Heights. Hix had 91 yards when the Warriors defeated Medway, Ont. on Sept. 12.

Clay Nixon (6-2, 205) starts at quarterback for the Warriors. He was eight of 19 passing for 114 yards last Friday.

Warriors receiver Devonte Marable had a 91-yard kickoff return against Licking Heights and he scored Watkins Memorial's lone points last Friday on a 29-yard touchdown catch from Nixon. Levi Krempel also provides Nixon another target.

"It's a typical Watkins scheme," Mueller said. "Big, physical kids that like to run the football."

Severino said the key to getting some consistency on offense Friday is the offensive line reaching the second level and blocking New Albany's linebackers instead of getting caught up in the defensive line, which is led by defensive end Harrison Scott.

"They do a nice job of taking up two blockers, and then their linebackers run free," Severino said. "We can't have their defensive lineman taking up two of our blockers. That's what our goal is."

The Warriors have an offensive line that starts four seniors in Logan Jackson (6-1, 225), Bryce Visnick (6-2, 225), Chad Fitch (5-9, 240) and Marshall Berry (6-1, 245) and junior Lance Langel (5-9, 235). Langel is a first-year starter.

Fitch also anchors line of a base 50 defense as a nose guard.

"They're a physical team," Severino said of New Albany "We'll have to step it up (physically)."

Next game

WATKINS MEMORIAL at NEW ALBANY

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, New Albany 20-6

•New Albany to date (2-2, 1-0 in OCC-Capital): Defeated Westerville North 33-28; lost to Westerville Central 34-28; lost to DeSales 13-6; def. Hilliard Bradley 41-14

•Watkins Memorial to date (1-3, 0-1 in OCC-Capital): Lost to Walnut Ridge 13-7; lost to Licking Heights 30-17; def. Medway (Ont.) 54-20; lost to Big Walnut 27-7

•Top Eagles: Bryant Bednarek (DB), Jordan Gallegos (RB), Alex Hake (RB), Sylvester Hagan (LB), Ben Imlay (RB), Joe Morlan (QB) and Harrison Scott (DL)

•Top Warriors: Chad Fitch (OL/DL), Clay Nixon (QB), Devonte Marable (WR) and Bryce Phillips (RB)