Coach Bob Fresch did not mask his feelings when he addressed his Westerville Central High School football team after last Friday's 21-17 loss to Westerville North.

Coach Bob Fresch did not mask his feelings when he addressed his Westerville Central High School football team after last Friday's 21-17 loss to Westerville North.

"This one hurts, I know it hurts, it hurts everybody," Fresch said. "I wanted them to make a big step of improvement going into that game, and afterward I wanted them to make a promise to me to continue to keep getting better.

"We've done so much over the last couple of weeks with a relatively young team. If we have another great week of practice and if they give it their all and keep improving, good things will happen."

Good things happened last Friday as the Warhawks scored 17 points, 15 more than they had in their first four games combined. TaQwaun Council intercepted a pass by North quarterback Chris McCluney and ran 28 yards for a touchdown with 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Jim Crum's extra point gave the Warhawks their first lead of the season at 7-6.

Crum added a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter and Kyle Stephenson scored the Warhawks' first offensive touchdown of the season on a 12-yard run with 40 seconds remaining in the half.

Stephenson started the season at wide receiver, but entering the game against Westerville South on Sept. 12 he moved to quarterback.

"Once again, he showed he had good vision on the field and he's a good athlete," Fresch said. "He's able to throw the ball, he has good accuracy and is able to get the ball to our receivers."

Like Stephenson, Fresch is pleased he is starting to identify key players on offense in Council at running back and Austin Harper and Tyler Worden at wide receiver.

"Our offensive line is also improving week by week," Fresch said.

"Obviously, you've got to have protection to throw the ball and sustain the running game."

Central will need its offense to continue improving on last Friday's performance as the Warhawks play Friday at Marysville. After opening 3-0, the Monarchs lost their last two games to Olentangy Liberty 28-21 on Sept. 12 and Olentangy 24-21 last Friday.

"I told the kids afterward that everyone can steer the boat when the seas are calm," Marysville coach Jeff Gafford said last Friday. "Right now the seas are little rough. They need to hang together and not point fingers."

Marysville led 21-7 at halftime as it forced three interceptions by Olentangy quarterback Justin Johnson. But Johnson got his revenge in the second half with touchdown passes of 25 and 5 yards.

The defense, which was Marysville's strong suit the first three games, has allowed 52 points the last two games.

Offensively, Marysville is led by fullback Nathan Weeks (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and quarterback Luke Fleming (6-0, 175).

"I'm very concerned with their quarterback and fullback," Fresch said. "(Weeks) carries people and doesn't go down easy by keeping his feet. (Fleming) is shifty and will run the trap and he's good with the option and has a good arm. We've got to stop their quarterback and running back from pounding it between the tackles and make them do something else."

Through five games, Fleming leads the Marysville offense with 436 yards on 77 carries with five touchdowns and Weeks has 396 yards rushing on 66 carries with six touchdowns.

"(Weeks) was our starting left tackle last year on offense," Gafford said. "He was a kid in our first-year program who was a great young sophomore prospect. I told him if he was to get on the field as a sophomore, it would be at left tackle. He said he'd play tackle even though he wanted to play somewhere else. He worked very hard to get into position to play fullback this year."

At a glance

NEXT GAME

CENTRAL at MARYSVILLE

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting, 2007, Marysville 35-28

•Marysville (3-2 overall, 0-2 OCC-Cardinal) to date: Defeated Marion Harding 41-0; def. Groveport 25-20; def. Bellefontaine 35-7; lost to Olentangy Liberty 28-21; lost to Olentangy 24-21

•Top Monarchs: Luke Fleming, Jon Fridley, Chris Guisinger and Nathan Weeks

LAST GAME

NORTH 21, CENTRAL 17

•Star: North's Chris McCluney, who rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one

•Key play: North's Chizo Emeaghara got his team going as he returned the opening kickoff of the second half 83 yards, setting up McCluney's first touchdown run.

•Key stat: Central did not score in the second half.