Coach Mark Solis hopes his Olentangy High School football team gained some needed confidence by winning its OCC-Buckeye Division opener.
The Braves improved to 2-4 by defeating Westerville South 21-10 on Sept. 28 and now will look for a second league victory Friday, Oct. 5, at Orange.
The Pioneers are 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the league -- and on a three-game winning streak -- after beating Westerville North 54-14 on Sept. 28.
"A win is huge for our confidence, and hopefully we can build off that," Solis said. "We dropped the last two against Orange and those games could have gone the other way.
"Our goals are still obtainable. We're 1-0 in the league and we want to win a conference championship, and you can't do that without beating Orange. To reach the playoffs, we'll likely have to win out, so this is a step in that direction."
Olentangy leads the series 6-3 but Orange has won the last two, 17-14 in 2016 and 30-28 last season. The Braves won six consecutive meetings -- 27-7 in 2010, 27-21 in 2011, 28-3 in 2012, 45-2 in 2013, 36-0 in 2014 and 43-20 in 2015 -- after the Pioneers won 27-6 in 2009.
"I don't think anyone -- players or coaches -- pay any attention to the record because this is an intra-district game," Orange coach Zebb Schroeder said. "With the schedule (the Braves) have played, they could easily be 6-0 or 5-1. They have been in every game in what has been a brutal schedule. They definitely have been tested and I'm sure they are champing at the bit to beat us."
The Braves have used two quarterbacks in Connor Haag (83-for-130, 945 yards, 8 touchdowns, no interceptions) and Trent Maddox (46-for-67, 506 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception). Their top targets have been Caden Kaiser (27 catches, 427 yards, 5 TDs) and Luke Riedel (45 catches, 408 yards, 3 TDs).
Zach Shiblaq leads the running game with 601 yards and five touchdowns on 88 carries.
"It starts with how much movement (the Braves) do. They are not a static offense," Schroeder said. "They move a ton. They get your eyes off your job and then make you pay. They have very, very good offensive players, and they have as good of skill players as we will see all season."
Shiblaq rushed for 165 yards and one score on 22 carries against South. Olentangy rallied from a 10-0 deficit.
"Our kids understand why we're where we're at," Solis said. "There have been a lot of self-inflicted things. In every loss, we had the lead and didn't finish in the last four minutes of the game. We got down 10 and Westerville South has some ridiculous athletes, but our kids came back to score 21 unanswered."
Orange scored the first 40 points against North and had 364 of its 444 total yards on the ground.
Mark Roberts rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries, and Robbie Dayhuff added 91 yards and one score on six carries. Dayhuff also was 6-for-11 passing for 67 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jake Vanchieri rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown on five carries.
"We have made some steady improvements from the early part of the season," Schroeder said. "Our unforced errors have really been shrinking, even though we still have more than we would like to have.
"Our kids are putting everything into practice and are becoming veteran varsity players. We're playing faster, and along with that comes confidence."