Despite vastly different results last Friday, the football teams at Dublin Coffman and Thomas Worthington high schools are taking similar approaches heading into Friday's meeting at Thomas.

Despite vastly different results last Friday, the football teams at Dublin Coffman and Thomas Worthington high schools are taking similar approaches heading into Friday's meeting at Thomas.

The Cardinals are coming off an ego-bruising 62-0 loss to Hilliard Davidson, while the Shamrocks made a statement last week with a 51-7 win over upstart Groveport. Both teams said they want to put the previous game in the past.

"We're going to try to get it behind us as best as possible," Thomas coach Scott Gordon said. "We watched a little bit of film on Saturday because there were a couple of things we wanted them to see that made a big difference. But from here on out, we're going to put that behind us."

For Coffman, players and coaches both said they aren't buying into the hype that has started to build surrounding them.

"There's so much room for improvement that we can't get into that 'No. 1' thing, like we're great," wide receiver E.J. Williams said after the Groveport win. "We're not. (Watching) that film (last Saturday), I know I'm going to get ripped for the mistakes I made, and so is everyone else."

Even after last week's setback, it is clear that Thomas is playing much better football in Gordon's third season than they have in recent years. The Cardinals are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central Division. Among their wins are a 35-28 victory over Division IV power Jonathan Alder on Aug. 28 and a 17-9 victory over Upper Arlington on Sept. 18.

Last season, Coffman cruised to a 49-6 win, but Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said the Cardinals' improvement has shown up on film, not just on the scoreboard.

"Pretty clearly on film, they're understanding things (in Gordon's scheme) a lot better than they did before," Crabtree said. "To me, it's just players on their team being a little more familiar with what they're all about with coach Gordon, and they're trying to implement the plan. To me, it's really kind of night and day (from last year)."

Thomas has been making a living with quarterback Sam Bohon throwing the football, but Gordon said the improved offensive balance has been key. The running game, led by Nate Easley and Justin Dugan, should get a boost this week from the return of 6-foot-4, 240-pound offensive lineman Nick Sharick, who was out with a shoulder injury last week.

Bohon threw for only 54 yards last Friday, but he has 1,238 yards and six touchdowns through five games. Wide receiver Justin Grubb could give the passing game a lift as he returns Friday after missing last game with the flu.

The Coffman defense has been one the best in the area this season. The Shamrocks have allowed just 14 points, with both touchdowns coming in the second half of blowout wins. They also have returned two interceptions for touchdowns and blocked a punt for a touchdown. Coffman's 4-3 defensive scheme has been effective largely because of overall team speed and an ability to get pressure on opposing passers with just a four-man rush, led by Brad Carrico, Max Phelps, Mike Brusadin and Corey Durthaler.

Crabtree said pressure will be the key again Friday.

"You could say the same thing against us, but I think the key is pressuring the quarterback with your front four," Crabtree said. "Not necessarily with your front and your linebackers, because I think if you do that then you end up leaving some things open. If your defensive line can pressure the quarterback and your linebackers and DBs can sit back and play pass defense, I think that's a big thing."

Gordon said he thinks his team matches up a bit better against Coffman's spread offense than it did against Davidson's option attack, but Thomas still is facing one of the area's best units. Quarterback Cole Stoudt has thrown for 925 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 62 percent of his passes. Among his top targets have been receivers Williams, Steven Carpenter and Joey Phelan, tight end Colton Caldwell and running back Shaun Jones.

Shaun Jones has been effective as a runner as well, gaining 461 yards with eight touchdowns at 7.3 yards per carry. Coffman's experienced offensive line is led by Sam Schulte (6-1, 294).

The Cardinals' defense is somewhat undersized, and Gordon said it is critical that the offense can control the ball and keep the defense off the field.

"You can't even have a chance in a game when your defense is on the field eight-tenths of the game, We've got to have some production offensively. Again, we're going to have to be balanced in order to do that, and you have to be able to run the ball."

The Cardinals' Austin Kaiser is wrapped up by Alex Mickley of Hilliard Davidson last Friday.

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last time played: 2008, Coffman 49-6

•Coffman (5-0 overall, 1-0 OCC-Central) to date: Defeated Olentangy Liberty 52-0; def. Courtice (Ontario) Holy Trinity 56-13; def. Brookhaven 33-0; def. Reynoldsburg 37-0; def. Groveport 51-7

•Thomas Worthington (3-2 overall, 1-1 OCC-Central) to date: Def. Jonathan Alder 35-28; lost to Olentangy Liberty 34-13; def. Hilliard Bradley 32-0; def. Upper Arlington 17-9; lost to Hilliard Davidson 62-0

•Top Shamrocks: Brett Buehler (LB), Kyle Frazier (LB), Jimmy Happ (CB), Shaun Jones (RB), Sam Schulte (OL), Cole Stoudt (QB), Conner Viers (CB/WR) and E.J. Williams (WR)

•Top Cardinals: Sam Adams (LB), Sam Bohon (QB), Staten Brady (DL), Colin Carter (WR), Justin Dugan (RB), Nate Easley (RB), Josh Fuller (LB), Collin Lisi (WR) and Michael Pisching (LB)