The Olentangy Orange and Westerville Central high school football teams enter their game Friday, Oct. 12, at Central with plenty of motivation.
Both teams are 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, so league and postseason implications are on the line.
Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty are tied for first at 2-0, but Orange and Central both still have league title hopes.
"When you look at our OCC right now, it's completely wide open, so everyone no matter what you did last week has motivation to win this week because who knows what's going to happen in this division, " Central coach Brent Morrison said.
Both teams also are in the Division I, Region 2 postseason picture, as the Warhawks were projected to be fourth and the Pioneers were projected to be ninth this week. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
"If we can take care of business, the postseason is within reach," Orange coach Zebb Schroeder said. "We just have to focus one week at a time and get better and go 1-0 in that week, and at the end of the day and after Week 10 you'll probably have something you're proud of."
Orange is looking to bounce back from a 35-34 overtime loss to Olentangy on Oct. 5. Quarterback Robbie Dayhuff completed 16 of 22 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns and added 88 rushing yards.
For the season, Dayhuff has completed 59 of 96 passes for 726 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Schroeder was hoping running back Mark Roberts would return to full strength after seeing limited time against Olentangy because of a knee injury. For the season, he has rushed for 682 yards and seven touchdowns on 103 carries.
Defensively, the Pioneers are led by end Zach Harrison, a 6-foot-6, 245-pounder who is one of the top college recruits in the nation. Harrison also has been making an impact at receiver.
"They have some players that we're definitely going to be game-planning for," Morrison said. "They're a disciplined team. They know exactly what they're doing. Their kids get where they're supposed to be and do what they're supposed to do and that poses a big challenge for us very similar to when we played Liberty (in a 16-14 loss Sept. 28)."
Central is looking to build on a 48-12 win over Westerville North on Oct. 5. The Warhawks snapped a three-game losing streak and outgained North 333-197, highlighted by rushing for 220 yards.
Myles Williamson rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, and Justin Carter added 57 yards on 16 carries.
For the season, quarterback LaBronz Davis II has completed 61 of 137 passes for 1,246 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Carter leads the team in rushing with 303 yards and three touchdowns on 70 carries.
The Warhawks also have a standout at defensive end in senior Dontay Hunter II, who has committed to Purdue.
"They're very athletic," Schroeder said. "They have good speed at so many positions. I really like their quarterback. He's a strong-armed kid and can make all the throws. They have tremendous game-breaking speed at the skill positions. Defensively, they're very aggressive and they have good pass rushers."