Few teams from central Ohio have proven to be as explosive offensively this season as the Pickerington High School North football team.
Another team in that discussion is the Panthers' opponent in their regular-season finale, Gahanna.
On Thursday, Oct. 26, in a game that will be televised on Spectrum, North plays host to the Lions in a matchup of teams that feature strong playoff resumes and high-powered offenses.
North is 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division after posting its season-high point total in a 56-28 victory over Lancaster on Oct. 20. The Panthers are averaging 38.4 points.
Gahanna is coming off a 62-35 victory over Grove City on Oct. 20 and is 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Lions are averaging 32 points.
"They're super explosive, so we're going to want to get stops (on defense)," Panthers coach Nate Hillerich said. "They've been giving up a lot of points, but they've been scoring a lot."
The Panthers hold a 5-4 edge in the all-time series, which began in 2008 when the teams became OCC-Ohio rivals.
North was projected to be sixth in the Division I, Region 3 computer ratings heading into Week 10 and could clinch a first-round home playoff game with a win over Gahanna and some help.
Huber Heights Wayne, which was projected to be No. 4 in the region, could move up to as high as No. 1 or drop to as low as No. 6, depending on how it fares against Trotwood-Madison, which is 9-0, on Friday, Oct. 27.
Gahanna is expected to make the Division I, Region 2 playoffs with a win over the Panthers. The Lions could earn a first-round home playoff game with a victory over North and some help.
Junior quarterback Mike Lowery started at North as a freshman but transferred to Gahanna as a sophomore and is in his second season as the Lions' starter.
Both Lowery and North's Jimmy Weirick are among the area's top quarterbacks. Lowery has completed 143 of 224 passes for 1,812 yards with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions, while Weirick is 112-for-212 passing for 1,805 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Weirick also has rushed for a team-best 669 yards and nine touchdowns.
"(Lowery) grew up with all of our kids," Hillerich said. "It's going to be a great one."
Weirick was intercepted three times in back-to-back wins over Olentangy Liberty (42-0 on Sept. 22) and Reynoldsburg (35-7 on Sept. 29) and completed only 17 of 41 passes in a 24-21 loss to Pickerington Central on Oct. 13. However, he bounced back against Lancaster, completing 12 of 17 passes for 249 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
North scored eight touchdowns against Lancaster despite having just 31 offensive plays. Jaylon Baylor scored on both of his receptions and Tyler Foster and Ty Wiley each had one touchdown catch.
"I think (Weirick's) locked in a zone," Hillerich said.