The Pickerington High School Central football team's game Friday at Springfield appears to be a mismatch.

The Pickerington High School Central football team's game Friday at Springfield appears to be a mismatch.

The Tigers defeated Upper Arlington 23-6 last Friday in their opener after finishing 11-1 last year. Springfield lost its opener last Friday to Hamilton 30-6, turning the ball over five times and gaining fewer than 200 yards. This is Springfield's first year as a unified school. Last year, Springfield South finished 1-9 and Springfield North went 3-7.

Despite how each team fared in its opener and last year, though, Central coach Jay Sharrett insists the Tigers must and will take the Wildcats seriously.

"We've got to be ready for this game because I've seen Springfield on film and they've got size, speed and some incredible hitters," Sharrett said. "This was their first game coming together as one team and they had some problems with execution, but I'm not sure that Hamilton was that much better than them. Hamilton didn't have any real takeaways. Those turnovers came off of mistakes, like hurrying a handoff or not securing the ball properly, that kind of stuff."

Springfield utilized three quarterbacks -- senior Jordan Moore, junior Alex Goskins and freshman George Walker -- to run its shotgun spread offense last Friday. Goskins made the biggest play, completing an 87-yard touchdown pass to senior Zack Burks, but the three quarterbacks combined to pass for 151 yards overall.

The Wildcats will attempt to establish a running game after rushing for 21 yards in their opener, including (minus)-1 in the second half.

Junior Kent Scott, who rushed for 539 yards last season, is Springfield's No. 1 tailback, and seniors Jeremy Johnson and Jerell Ragland are the top offensive linemen.

"When we looked at their two scrimmages and their first game, we saw that they can break big plays," Sharrett said. "They look OK on one play and then they'll go 75 yards for a touchdown. They've got some good size, so we can't let them move the chains with their running game. We have to get their offense off the field quickly."

Last Friday, Central limited UA to 269 yards -- including 115 rushing on 32 carries -- and forced five turnovers.

Jamie Wood had two interceptions, returning the second 70 yards to put the Tigers ahead 23-6 with 5 minutes, 41 seconds remaining.

Josh Kristoff also had two interceptions, and Cory Cosby recovered a fumble which set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Zach Boren to put Central ahead 13-0.

"We always try to take advantage of turnovers because they can change the aspect of a game," Wood said.

"We know when it's time to fall on the ball, but if we get it and the field is open, we'll try to run with it and score."

Sharrett said the Tigers will continue to strive for balance offensively after totaling 115 yards passing and 104 yards rushing last Friday.

Nick Raymond completed 11 of 20 passes for 115 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown to Patrick White in the first quarter. Tyler Hammond rushed for 50 yards on 14 carries and Boren ran for 41 yards on seven carries.

But Sharrett is expecting more consistent play out of his offense.

"We had some success both running and passing, which is ideal," he said. "Our next step is getting our personnel squared away. We got caught out there with 10 guys on a couple of plays and didn't produce because we were a man short. We'll chalk that up to opening-day mistakes, but we can't continue to do that."

The Wildcats typically line up in a 4-4 defense and play a lot of cover-three and man-to-man zone.

Springfield's defense -- led by senior linebacker Austin Moore, sophomore linebacker Trey DePriest, senior lineman Doug McCowan and senior backs Karlos Marshall and Derek Woods -- gave up 246 yards and 11 first downs last Friday.

"Hamilton didn't drive the ball 70 or 80 yards down the field much against Springfield, they just had a short field to work with," Sharrett said. "They line up all over the place, defensively, so we'll take what they give us. If they play us deep and we have to line up and run the ball every play, we'll do it. If they crowd the box and we have to pass every play, we'll do that."

Last Friday

For coverage of all area football games last weekend, please visit:

Friday Night Live at www.thisweeknews.com

Next game

CENTRAL at SPRINGFIELD

When: 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

Springfield to date: Lost to Hamilton 30-6

Top Wildcats: Trey DePriest, Alex Goskins, Jeremy Johnson, Karlos Marshall, Doug McCowan, Austin Moore, Jordan Moore, Jerell Ragland, Kent Scott, George Walker and Derek Woods