Week 8 of the high school football season features a slate of area matchups that were appealing even before the season started.

Everything from league titles to matchups with league and playoff implications to bragging rights between rivals will be on tap.

Here are five things to watch heading into Week 8:

1. The rivalry between Pickerington Central and Pickerington North has never been hotter.

Central, which visits North on Friday, Oct. 13, has won the last four meetings and is 9-3 all-time against the Panthers, but rarely have both teams been this good at the same time.

The Tigers and Panthers both are 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division, with their only losses coming to out-of-area teams that likely are on their way to making the postseason.

Central and North are both in Division I, Region 3, where playoff points are at a premium because of the number of teams still in the postseason hunt.

North is coming off a 49-7 win over Grove City on Oct. 6, while Central edged Lancaster 14-13 that same night.

2. Unbeaten Hilliard Bradley could be in for its stiffest test to date.

The Jaguars are 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, and all of their wins have come by at least 14 points.

On Oct. 13, Bradley will visit one of the area's hottest teams in Dublin Jerome, which is 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal. The Celtics have won four games in a row since enduring back-to-back losses to Pickerington North and Olentangy Orange, which are a combined 13-1.

3. Much will be gained for the winner between Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy.

Although Olentangy lost to Orange 30-28 on Oct. 6 to fall to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye, the Braves would take a big step toward solidifying a Division I, Region 2 home playoff game with a win over the visiting Patriots on Oct. 13.

Liberty is 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye but probably needs to win two of its final three games to make the Region 2 playoffs.

4. The CCL championship likely will be determined when DeSales visits Hartley on Oct. 13.

The Stallions have beaten the Hawks each of the past two seasons. This year's matchup will be the most important in the CCL, as Hartley now is in the same league division as DeSales, St. Charles and Watterson.

Hartley has won six consecutive games and is 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the CCL, while DeSales has won two games in a row and is 5-2 and 1-0.

5. Something must give when Groveport visits Newark on Oct. 13.

The Cruisers and Wildcats went 6-4 and 5-5, respectively, last season, but both teams are winless through seven games this season.

Groveport has lost by an average of 24.2 points since falling to Hamilton Township 21-14 on Aug. 31, while Newark has lost by an average of 34.5 points since losing 28-27 in overtime to Marion Harding on Sept. 8.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek