The Olentangy Orange High School football team returns home with an eye on making program history.

The Pioneers are 4-0 and have a chance to win their first five games for the first time. In 2009, they started 4-0, but lost to Big Walnut 31-15 in Week 5.

“It’s definitely very exciting for the program and the school,” senior running back Jack Applegate said. “It’s big for our senior class. We’ve all been really close since youth football and our goal is to make it super-far (in the postseason) in our senior year. Starting out strong has been important to us. We definitely have high goals this year.”

The Pioneers will play host to winless Newark on Friday, Sept. 22. The Wildcats have been outscored 124-53, with their closest contest being a 28-27 overtime loss to Marion Harding on Sept. 8.

“From what we’ve seen on film, Newark has some good skill players,” coach Zebb Schroeder said. “(Running backs) Davian Williams and D’ante Woods really jump out at you. When they get out in space or in the crease, they can hurt you. We have to make sure we do a good job on them and tackle them up.”

The Wildcats are coming off a 42-7 loss to Lancaster on Sept. 15. Sophomore quarterback Jaden Woods came off the bench in the second half and threw a 14-yard touchdown to DeJuan Shackleford in the fourth quarter. Shawn Keaser had six receptions for 62 yards.

Orange defeated host Big Walnut 35-10 on Sept. 15, but trailed 10-7 at halftime. Schroeder said it could be the jolt his team needs.

“In the first three weeks, things went smoothly for us, so it was good for us to face some adversity like that,” Schroeder said. “To have to grind and to be playing on the road like that was good for us. It shows us that we have to be ready to play.”

Applegate ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries as Orange totaled 301 yards rushing. Mark Roberts rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, quarterback Luke Schmeling ran for 48 yards and one score on four carries and Graham Starn rushed for 43 yards on nine carries.

“We have three running backs in Jack Applegate, Graham Starn and Mark Roberts who all deserve to run the ball,” Schroeder said. “It’s nice to have that kind of depth, and we want to take advantage of it as much as we can.”

Defensively for the Pioneers, Brant Kightlinger, Brandon Ransom and Jimmy Sensibaugh all had one interception against Big Walnut, which fell to 0-4.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen