The Thomas Worthington and Olentangy Liberty high school football teams both recognize their regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1, has importance for their programs.
"It may not be a marquee game or have a lot of meaning to anyone else, but it is a big game for us," Thomas coach Scott Gordon said. "We're playing for a lot, not just pride. We're playing to win to give us a springboard into the offseason. We're both 4-5 and there is a big difference between a losing season and a non-losing season."
The Patriots, who are coming off a 24-12 loss to Dublin Coffman on Oct. 25, have the same thoughts in mind.
"We have never had a losing season since 2003," Liberty coach Steve Hale said. "Our seniors deserve everyone's best effort. This is a big game for our program and our seniors."
Liberty opened in 2003 and went 1-9 that season while competing in Division IV, Region 14. Its lone win was 14-0 over Licking Heights.
Liberty finished 8-3 the following season, losing to Maumee 24-14 in the first round of the Division II, Region 6 playoffs. Thomas is coming off a 55-14 loss to Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 25.
"It was lopsided and we just couldn't slow them down," Gordon said. "We had no answer defensively. They just came right at us and rolled us. We've got a big senior class and five or six guys are going to play on the next level. It's important to this senior class to go out with a win.
"We need to stay focused and play the way we're capable of playing to go out on a high note. Liberty has a good offensive line and (Luke Callahan) is a Division I college recruit (who has verbally committed to Cincinnati). They've got a good running back (Daryian Davies) and they throw it well from their spread offense. They also have playmakers ... (on) defense."
Tony Harvard (RB), Danny Gordon (QB) Richard Spernoga (OL/DL), Nick Petrucelli (LB), Jalen Wells (WR/DB) and Esai Slaughter (OL) are among those Cardinals hoping to play at the next level.
"Thomas is a much improved team," Hale said. "We will have to play really well to win."