Urgency might be in the air Friday, Sept. 8, when the Westerville North High School football team plays host to Upper Arlington.
Both teams are 1-1 after disappointing losses Sept. 1, as the Golden Bears fell at Westerville Central 31-21 and the Warriors lost to visiting Thomas Worthington 45-21.
Coming off a 53-0 win over St. Charles on Aug. 25, UA was plagued by five turnovers and 10 penalties for 85 yards against the Warhawks.
“For these seniors, they only have eight guaranteed games left. They have to earn the rest,” Bears coach Joel Cutler said. “At some point there’s got to be that rallying cry. We’ve just got to improve. If we take care of us, we’ll be in the mix down the stretch, but we can’t play like we did (against Central).”
North lamented two turnovers of its own that quashed quality scoring chances. Thomas pulled away with a 14-point fourth quarter.
“We didn’t help ourselves with turnovers, but Thomas is a good all-around team and they will make some noise this season,” North coach Scott Wetzel said. “We didn’t help ourselves with turnovers and bad snaps. The game could have been much closer. It was disappointing coming off what we did (in a 27-0 win at Groveport on Aug. 25).”
Despite UA’s difficulties last week and a few changes in personnel, Wetzel basically sees the same team that routed the Warriors 34-7 last year, handing North its first loss after a 2-0 start.
Against Central, quarterback Sammy Sass completed 16 of 37 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns – both of which went to tight end Will Robbins – and two interceptions. Sass committed last week to play baseball at Wright State.
Running back Eli D’Herete added 75 yards and a touchdown, and Avery Heath finished with 65 yards on 12 carries.
Linebacker Dante Landolfi and defensive back Dexter Lewis each recorded nine tackles. Lewis had eight solo stops and Landolfi had seven.
“The biggest thing that stood out last year when we were preparing for them is that they’re a fundamentally sound team that doesn’t do anything fancy, and that hasn’t changed,” Wetzel said. “They’ll go off-tackle and isolation with some timing routes. We have to play well defensively and just take care of ourselves. What happened to (UA) last week was uncharacteristic. This will be a big challenge for us.”
Warriors quarterback Jacob Woods had a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wilson in the third against Thomas. Rondale Smith added a 5-yard touchdown run in the second.
Cutler hopes a defense that also includes returning linemen Nick Cipriano and Jackson Ness can contain North’s run-oriented scheme. However, he said all-around improvement this week was critical.
“There are some glaring issues that we have to correct. They’re fixable,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to get back and learn from this and handle constructive criticism at each position, coaches as well, and fix those things and press on.”