Pickerington Central and Olentangy Orange have looked like two of central Ohio’s elite high school football teams for much of this season, but that doesn’t mean every game they win is easy.
No coach has beaten Central’s Jay Sharrett more often than Lancaster’s Rob Carpenter, and the Tigers escaped with a 14-13 victory Oct. 6 to improve to 6-1.
The Pioneers edged sister school Olentangy 30-28 to move to 7-0.
Here are five things we learned from Week 7:
1. Orange is a team filled with heart.
The Pioneers were stout enough defensively to rarely be tested during their first six games.
To stay undefeated, however, they had to rally from an 18-point deficit in a 30-28 victory over Olentangy.
Garrett Runyon had an interception and returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown to lead the way for Orange, which outscored the Braves 20-7 in the second half.
It’s the best start in program history for the Pioneers.
2. Reynoldsburg took a big step in staying in the playoff hunt.
In a matchup of teams coming off blowout losses, the Raiders edged Gahanna 21-14 to remain in the mix for a Division I, Region 3 playoff berth.
Reynoldsburg scored the game-winning points on a 52-yard interception return by Donovan Hines with 3 minutes, 12 seconds remaining as it improved to 5-2.
Although the Lions slipped to 4-3, their hopes of making the Division I, Region 2 playoffs remain in good shape.
3. DeSales’ playoff hopes got a boost.
The Stallions have won back-to-back games and are 5-2 after beating Trenton Edgewood 28-3.
DeSales trailed 3-0 at halftime but scored 21 of its 28 points in the fourth quarter.
The playoff points the Stallions receive from Edgewood, a Division II program that is 5-2, give them a boost in a deep Division III, Region 11.
DeSales likely needs to win two of its final three games to make the postseason after it reached a state semifinal last season.
4. The battle for the final three playoff spots in Division II, Region 7 could be wide open.
In Division II, Region 7, Walnut Ridge, Mifflin and New Albany are starting to look like safe bets to represent central Ohio and Massillon Washington and Ashland also appear to be on the road to making the playoffs.
There are nine other teams, including Canal Winchester, Licking Heights, Whitehall, Northland, Westerville South, Worthington Kilbourne and Dublin Scioto, that could factor into which teams earn the other three berths in Region 7.
5. Hilliard Davidson has a clutch kicker.
Although the Wildcats aren’t having the typical success they’ve enjoyed during coach Brian White’s tenure, they always can be counted on to be one of the area’s more fundamentally sound teams.
That includes in its kicking game, where Davidson has a standout in Sean Carrier.
He made three field goals, including the game-winner from 43 yards with 23 seconds left, in the Wildcats’ 9-6 victory over Upper Arlington to keep his team’s slim playoff hopes alive in Division I, Region 3.