Dublin Scioto heads into its regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1, at home against winless Canal Winchester as a playoff contender despite losing its last two games.
The Irish, who are 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal, were projected to be fifth in the Division II, Region 5 computer ratings released by the OHSAA on Oct. 29. The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs.
Scioto, which lost to Hilliard Bradley 34-28 in overtime Oct. 25 after losing to Hilliard Darby 28-17 on Oct. 18, is bidding for its second consecutive playoff berth. The Irish made their first postseason appearance since 2005 a year ago, losing to Olentangy 21-17 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
"We believe a win gets us in through most scenarios but (a playoff berth) is not guaranteed," coach Karl Johnson said.
Canal Winchester dropped to 0-9 and 0-6 with a 30-28 loss to Westerville North on Oct. 25. The Indians, who are in their first season in the OCC, are averaging 10.7 points and allowing an average of 40.1.
Scioto is averaging 30.8 points and giving up an average of 26.
"Canal has struggled, but they have good players," Johnson said. "Our focus needs to be on our preparation and execution."
Indians quarterback Nick Hammond has thrown for 743 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wide receivers Skyler Scott (19 catches, 376 yards, 5 TDs) and Jalen Smith (20 catches, 193 yards) are his main targets.
The Indians allowed 343 yards rushing against Westerville North.
Running back Darius McDonald led Scioto's offense against Bradley. He rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, his second return for a score this season.
Quarterback Nathan Densel threw for just 39 yards and an interception against Bradley. On the season, he has completed 157 of 261 passes for 1,717 yards with 11 touchdowns and has rushed for 374 yards and four scores on 98 carries.
Three of Scioto's four losses have been by seven points or fewer, including the contest against Bradley. The other two came against Marysville (30-28 on Sept. 13) and Westerville Central (41-38 on Sept. 20).