The Gahanna Lincoln High School football team has navigated its schedule admirably thus far considering that only one of its opponents has a losing record.
The Lions will get another stern test against a team battling for playoff positioning like themselves when they travel to Lancaster on Friday, Oct. 12.
Both the Golden Gales and Gahanna are coming off victories over previously undefeated teams.
After losing to defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central 27-13 on Sept. 27, Gahanna handed Reynoldsburg its first loss, a 10-7 decision on Oct. 5, to improve to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
Lancaster is 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the league after beating Central 31-30 on Oct. 5 to snap the Tigers' 18-game winning streak overall and their 16-game winning streak in league play.
The teams the Gales have lost to are a combined 16-5.
"Playing in our division and at Gahanna, our kids know each week is a big game for us and we're just trying to keep our head above water," coach Bruce Ward said. "Our kids know it. We talk about it in the offseason. They know what our schedule is. We don't have time to take weeks off or days off. We have to stay focused and keep grinding, but we wouldn't have it any other way."
Gahanna was outgained 196-118 in total yards and held the ball for just 15 minutes, 30 seconds compared to 30:22 for Reynoldsburg, but the Lions got a 10-yard touchdown run by Justus Harris in the second quarter and a 28-yard field goal by Tyler Koss in the third period and held off a rally attempt by the Raiders.
Senior defensive back Percy King had nine tackles and three tackles for loss and junior defensive back Mason Weber had an interception to help keep Reynoldsburg's offense in check.
The defense's next task will be Lancaster's wing-T offense that produced 349 total yards and held the ball for 29:24 against Central.
Gales quarterback Tyler Monk has completed 42 of 85 passes for 881 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and has rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown, while running back Jake Richards has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns, running back Lucas Gauerke has 296 yards rushing and three touchdowns and wide receiver Casey Finck has 18 receptions for 452 yards and six scores.
Another playmaker for Lancaster is Max Hamilton, who has eight receptions and averages 42.8 yards on kickoff returns.
Gahanna has won four of its last five games after losing its first two games, with its three losses coming to teams that are a combined 17-4.
Harris had 50 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries and quarterback Will Thomas rushed for 30 yards to lead the offense against Reynoldsburg.
Gahanna was projected to be third in the Division I, Region 2 computer ratings this week behind Dublin Coffman and Reynoldsburg, while Lancaster was projected to be 11th in Division I, Region 3.
"Every week, coaches around the state and around the country prepare hard for a win, and to get a win like (the one against Reynoldsburg) is just huge for our program," Ward said. "It's kind of like a pay day at the end of a week. It puts us in a good situation.
"We play tough teams all year. We opened up with a (31-0 loss at Cincinnati) Elder (on Aug. 24) and then (lost) to Coffman (38-25 on Aug. 31). Our guys are gaining confidence and working each week and getting better."