The Olentangy High School football team is closing in on its fourth consecutive playoff appearance, but the Braves need a win over visiting Westerville Central in their regular-season finale Friday, Oct. 27, to clinch a spot in Division I, Region 2.
At 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, Olentangy was projected to be sixth this week in Region 2. The top eight teams in the region make the playoffs.
"The mark of a good team is whether they are playing their best at the end of the season, and we hope we are doing that," coach Mark Solis said. "We're a little dinged up like everybody else, but we aren't crying about it. Guys are stepping in where we need them. It was just good to get a win."
The Braves used perhaps their most balanced offensive game of the season Oct. 20 to defeat Westerville North 48-14 and snap a two-game losing streak. Quarterback Riley Bruening completed 12 of 17 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 58 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries, and the Braves rushed for 188 yards.
Bruening threw touchdown passes to Ian Drummond and Caden Kaiser, and Conor Sherry returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown as part of a 31-point second quarter.
North committed four turnovers, and Olentangy had none.
"You don't want to be predictable, and that was the kind of balanced game I like to see," Solis said.
Central kept its slim playoff hopes alive, at least mathematically, with a 42-35 win over Westerville South on Oct. 19. Allen Smith rushed for 276 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries as the Warhawks improved to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Central was projected to be ninth in Region 2 this week with 12.4167 points. Eighth-place Lorain was projected to have 16.1717 points.
The Braves lead the all-time series 4-3, including a 28-21 win last year that simultaneously clinched Olentangy a playoff spot and eliminated the Warhawks.
This week's game might be the last at Central for coach John Magistro, who announced his resignation before the season. He is 62-41 in nine seasons with the Warhawks.
"Smith stands out right away," Solis said. "They'll throw a lot of looks at us on offense and defense. It's going to be a close battle. It seems like it always is."