Westerville News & Public Opinion


Central on verge of outright league title


The Westerville Central High School football team will look to clinch the outright OCC-Cardinal Division title Friday, Nov. 1, when it visits Dublin Jerome.

The Warhawks secured at least a share of the title Oct. 25 with a 35-21 win over Hilliard Darby.

Central leads the league at 6-0, followed by Darby and Hilliard Bradley at 5-1.

The Warhawks, who are 8-1 overall and have won seven consecutive games, also are looking to secure a home game in the Division I, Region 1 playoffs. The top 16 teams in the region qualify for the postseason, with the top eight teams playing host to first-round games, and Central is projected to be sixth in this week's computer ratings.

"Dublin Jerome plays us tough every year and there's no reason to think they aren't going to play us tough again," said Central coach John Magistro, whose team leads the series 5-4. "This is going to be an important game. We can win our conference title outright and we'd really like to clinch a home game for the playoffs, too."

Jerome is 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the league.

"We will take the field and give it our best shot because that is what Celtics do and that is what we are supposed to do as young men who compete in playing this great game we are privileged to play," Jerome coach Mark Hundley said.

Hundley realizes his team will face a challenge in stopping Central's potent spread offense, which is led by senior quarterback Jared Drake.

"Central's offense looks to be the best in the league," Hundley said. "They can run and throw equally well."

Drake has completed 132 of 196 passes for 2,043 yards with 21 touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 654 yards and eight touchdowns on 101 carries.

Running back Alex Fisher has rushed for 599 yards and 13 touchdowns on 102 carries for the Warhawks, who are averaging 49.4 points per game.

"This is going to be a big game, but we have to treat it like it's any other game," Drake said. "We want to come out fast like we did (while building a 15-0 lead in the first 1 minute, 36 seconds against Darby) and play hard the entire game.

"We just need to make sure we all take care of our assignments and execute our game plan, and I think we'll play well."

Jerome will look to keep the ball away from Central by controlling time of possession with its double-wing formation. Running back Steve Kidwell has rushed for 534 yards and six touchdowns on 82 carries.

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