First-year Grove City High School football coach Tennyson Varney said he's seeing a solid effort from his team in what has been a disappointing season.
The Dawgs dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Ohio Division with a 27-7 loss at Reynoldsburg on Oct. 13.
"I hope we continue to build and get better and better, but we have a long way to go," Varney said. "Our kids are working hard. It's a battle to be good."
Grove City plays Friday, Oct. 20, at Gahanna, which improved to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Ohio with a 49-36 win against Lancaster on Oct. 13.
The Lions were projected to be fourth in the Division I, Region 2 computer ratings this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
"Gahanna is super-athletic and they have athletes everywhere," Varney said. "Reynoldsburg was athletic and Gahanna is going to be the same way. Gahanna has a good defense. They play well on the (defensive) line."
Gahanna's spread offense is led by quarterback Mike Lowery, who passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns against Lancaster.
Lowery suffered an arm injury in a 45-8 loss to Pickerington Central on Sept. 29 and missed his team's 21-14 loss to Reynoldsburg on Oct. 6.
Running back Justus Harris rushed for 87 yards and scored five touchdowns against Lancaster.
David Miller, who filled in for Lowery at quarterback against Reynoldsburg, is a key wide receiver.
"Obviously Lowery is really good, but Miller isn't far off," Varney said. "Miller is a really explosive athlete. You see him take off and run on a couple films, he's good."
Devin Dukes rushed for 111 yards on 19 carries against Reynoldsburg, and Austin Sigler completed 15 of 24 passes for 203 yards with a 22-yard touchdown to Austin Butcher in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we battled," Varney said. "I thought we played well, but sometimes we just make mistakes. We don't sustain drives (and commit) silly penalties here and there. We're getting better, we're improving on some things, which I was hoping we would do. We just have mental breakdowns."