Needing a victory over Lancaster and help from others to make the Division I playoffs last year, the Reynoldsburg High School football team lost 42-27 in its regular-season finale.

The Raiders are in nearly the exact same situation as they prepare to play host to the Golden Gales on Friday, Oct. 27.

After losing to Pickerington Central 41-7 on Oct. 20, Reynoldsburg is 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division. It was projected to be ninth in Division I, Region 3 heading into its regular-season finale, one spot out of the playoffs.

Lancaster, which used its win over the Raiders last year to move from 10th to eighth and earn a playoff spot, has lost three in a row and is out of the running for the postseason.

The Gales are 4-5 overall and 1-3 in the league after losing to Pickerington North 56-28 on Oct. 20.

"The bottom line is that we've got to handle our business," coach Buddy White said.

The clearest path for the Raiders to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in three seasons would include beating Lancaster and having Kettering Fairmont defeat Springfield in a matchup of 6-3 teams. Fairmont was projected to be seventh in Region 3 with Springfield eighth heading into their game Oct. 27.

Hilliard Darby, which is 6-3 and projected to be 10th, will stay in contention if it beats Dublin Scioto on Oct. 27.

The battle for the final playoff spot could come down to how some of the teams the Raiders have beaten, such as Central Crossing and Gahanna, fare in their regular-season finales. Gahanna is 6-3 and plays at Pickerington North, which is 7-2, on Thursday, Oct. 26, while Central Crossing visits Marysville on Oct. 27 in a matchup of 3-6 teams.

Reynoldsburg is coming off a game in which it fell behind 34-0 by halftime and scored its only touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Justin Henry to Shon Strickland with 5 minutes, 59 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Central limited the Raiders to 3.6 yards per carry and intercepted two passes.

Mershawn Rice led the offense with seven catches for 65 yards. Camby Goff had 1.5 tackles for loss, and Dezman Cooper, Elijah Ratliff, D'Lacy Bass and Breyon Eddings each had one tackle for loss.

Lancaster has given up an average of 52.5 points the last two weeks but finished with 427 yards of offense in a 49-36 loss to Gahanna on Oct. 13 and 368 against North.

Shea Goss rushed 37 times for 205 yards in the latest loss.

"One of the things that hurts them is that all of their key guys are going both ways," White said. "Maybe they've worn down in the second halves of their games. The bottom line is that we have to beat Lancaster, and that's never an easy chore. I'm 3-3 against them."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek