No one would admit it is a must-win game, but it has that feel.

No one would admit it is a must-win game, but it has that feel.

The Olentangy High School football team plays host to Marysville on Friday in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest that both teams need to win considering each is 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Neither team wants to fall to 0-2 in the conference.

"In a way it's a must-win game," Marysville fullback Nathan Weeks said. "If we can go out and give it our all, coach (Jeff Gafford) always calls it the man-in-the-mirror test. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you did everything you could, it doesn't matter the outcome. Win or lose, you're satisfied."

Yet a win on Friday could be deemed slightly more than satisfying.

"It's a huge week for both teams," Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said. "If you want any kind of chance in our conference, you have to win this week. Make no bones about it, it's a huge game."

Marysville has lost three consecutive games after winning its opener 39-6 against Marion Harding on Aug. 28. Injuries have derailed the Monarchs.

Third-year starting quarterback Luke Fleming bruised his right hamstring and sat out the second half of a 21-19 loss to Bellefontaine on Sept. 11. He was sidelined for all but two series in a 17-6 loss to Olentangy Liberty last Friday but is expected to play Friday, Gafford said.

In addition, Marysville's starting running back Hayes Chrispin, defensive back Seth Harriman and center Zach Blankenship all have missed games because of unspecified injuries.

Chris Coburn moved from running back to quarterback in Marysville's triple-option offense. Coburn is the Monarchs' second-leading rusher with 496 yards on 70 carries and two touchdowns, and Weeks has 501 yards on 86 attempts and seven scores.

"We worked two-a-days getting timing down with Luke, so it's been difficult having him out," Weeks said. "We're getting there."

Olentangy will face a triple-option offense for the second time in four weeks. On Sept. 4, Delaware beat the Braves 17-14.

"It's important to play your assignment," Olentangy linebacker David Greenzalis said. "A lot of guys figured against Delaware you can't be the hero. Do what you're supposed to do and the whole play will be stopped. If you try and make a tackle, they might find a seam."

Marysville has proven it still can score points despite the injuries, as it is averaging 24.5 points.

"We had eight guys coming back on offense and we looked at it as one of our strengths," Gafford said.

"For whatever reason, we haven't jelled as we thought we would, but we've shown signs even though we're without some main weapons. Under normal circumstances, you'd say we have an advantage on Friday on offense. But while we're starting to get some key components back, we're still not all the way."

Olentangy's offense, led by quarterback James Camp and running back Ben-Michael Welch, has struggled to put points on the board. The Braves are averaging 12.3.

"We need to work on what we need to do," Terwilliger said. "We need to work on improving ourselves. We have to get better on offense, on defense and in the kicking game. We came awful close last week; we just didn't get it done. Scioto made a couple more plays than us and we lost 14-12."

Despite what has transpired over the last four weeks, both teams are relying on a positive mantra this week, and a win places the remainder of the season in a positive light.

"We told the kids we're one game out of first," Gafford said. "That's the way we're approaching it."

"Basically, a new season begins when conference play starts," Greenzalis said. "We realize a win puts us 1-1 in the conference, which a lot of teams will be."

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, Olentangy 24-21

•Marysville (1-3 overall, 0-1 in OCC-Central) to date: Defeated Marion Harding 39-6; lost to Groveport 55-34, lost to Bellefontaine 21-19; lost to Olentangy Liberty 17-6

•Olentangy (1-3, 0-1 in OCC-Central) to date: Lost to Olentangy Orange 27-6; lost to Delaware 17-14; defeated Big Walnut 17-0; lost to Dublin Scioto 14-12

•Top Monarchs: Scott Arnold (OL/DL), Brendan Barrett (OL), Bryan Barrett (WR/DB), Chris Coburn (QB/RB), Dylan Dearwester (LB), Luke Fleming (QB) and Nate Weeks (RB)

•Top Braves: James Camp (QB), Justin Gingery (WR), David Greenzalis (LB), Aaron Gutentag (DB), Ryan Summers (DB) and Ben-Michael Welch (RB)