Central, South set to battle
In his fourth season as coach of the Westerville Central High School football team, John Magistro has enjoyed several accomplishments, such as leading the Warhawks to their first postseason berth last year.
Magistro and his team will be looking for another first when Central plays host to Westerville South on Friday, Oct. 12.
South leads the series 5-0.
"We have never beaten South and it's something that sticks with you for a long time," Magistro said. "We just know it's a good game. South is a good football team."
The Warhawks have come close the past two years, losing 21-14 in 2010 and 28-22 last season.
South won the first two games, 51-30 in 2007 and 41-0 in 2008.
The Wildcats also defeated Central 28-7 in Magistro's first season in 2009.
"It's the game that haunts me," Central senior lineman C.J. Naples said of last year's loss to South. "It's the game that I remember the most. I can tell you any play from last year. It's the game all the seniors want because it's a rivalry game. When you go out to the local places in town and you see them, it's bragging rights. It's everything you want as a senior."
The Warhawks, who are 6-1 overall, also will be looking to keep their OCC-Cardinal Division title hopes alive. They are third in the league at 3-1 behind 4-0 co-leaders Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Darby.
Central lost to Scioto 34-14 on Sept. 14 and visits Darby on Oct. 19.
South is 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Last season, South tied Central and Olentangy Liberty for first in the league at 5-2 to win a share of its fourth consecutive league title. Liberty has moved to the OCC-Central.
"We're going to play hard and physical," South junior lineman Adam Thesing said. "We're just going to keep the tradition up. They haven't won yet. We're going to have to cut out the mental mistakes and just keep playing hard because we don't lose to Central."
Both teams also are in contention for the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
Last season, Central lost to Gahanna 38-21 in the first round.
The Warhawks are coming off a 35-14 victory over Westerville North in which they scored all of their points in the first half. In limited action, junior quarterback Jared Drake passed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior Charlie Moushey.
South enters on a two-game losing streak, having lost at Scioto 42-35 on Sept. 28 and at home against Darby 28-14 on Oct. 5.
"We're in the grind of our schedule," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "We're playing the three best teams in the league right in a row."
Against Darby, senior quarterback Nick Renzetti completed 26 of 42 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior running back Noah Prentiss rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries.
Magistro realizes his team will be facing a motivated South squad.
"Records really don't mean much because when you look at who South lost to, we lost to one of them (Scioto) and we have Darby next week, so it's just a tough league," he said.
The Warhawks will be looking to contain Renzetti, who has completed 142 of 238 passes for 2,080 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
South has a balanced passing attack -- five players have at least 10 receptions. Senior Jalen Bell has 51 catches for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns and senior Marcus Ball has 33 catches for 465 yards and four touchdowns.
Prentiss leads the team in rushing with 775 yards on 112 carries with six touchdowns.
"I've looked around, and as far as athletes in a skill position, they have as good as athletes as anybody I've seen," Magistro said. "They're scary. Their guys out there are dangerous."
Drake has completed 74 of 143 passes for 971 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also leads Central in rushing with 839 yards on 88 carries with nine touchdowns.
Junior Alex Fisher has rushed for 468 yards on 94 carries with four touchdowns.
Moushey has a team-leading 24 receptions for 424 yards with eight touchdowns.
"Central plays good, solid defense and their quarterback is phenomenal," Pentello said. "He's a good runner, good passer. They're big up front. They're just a real solid team."