The Upper Arlington High School football team probably has to win each of its final three regular-season games if it is to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but coach Joel Cutler does not want his players to worry so much about the big picture that they lose focus.
"We have to be brutally honest with ourselves and evaluate what we need to do to get better," Cutler said. "This doesn't get any easier going forward. It's the next guy up and the next opponent up. It's just that kind of schedule. We just have to worry about us. The guys might be sick of me saying it, but we just have to take care of us right now."
At 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central Division, the Golden Bears remain in contention for a playoff spot in Division I, Region 2. A win at Marysville on Friday, Oct. 12, would help their cause, especially given that the Monarchs were projected to be eighth in this week's Region 2 computer ratings.
UA was projected to be 14th. The top eight teams in the region make the playoffs.
Despite a strong defensive performance that yielded only one touchdown, the Bears lost 17-7 at Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 5. Davidson gained all of its 228 yards on the ground and Christian Sweet scored two touchdowns -- one on a 20-yard run and the other on a 51-yard punt return -- in a span of 1 minute, 17 seconds between the first and second quarters to take a 14-0 lead and win its 12th consecutive game against UA dating to 2008.
The Bears, who played without top running back Chris Schweisthal because of a concussion and lost wide receiver Steven Bair in a second half to an injury Cutler did not believe to be severe, ended the shutout with 1:29 left in the game when quarterback Jacob Leve threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Rushin.
"They defended a very good, complex team very well," Cutler said. "Davidson will get yards on the ground for sure, but our defensive staff did a great job of breaking them down, their tendencies and formations. From afar, it might just look like they always run it up the middle with a triple option, but it is much more than that. Our kids adjusted beautifully the majority of the night. Unfortunately, the game just got away from us in a relatively short period of time."
Marysville improved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the league with a 36-12 win at Westland on Oct. 5. That came six days after the Monarchs led Dublin Coffman -- ranked seventh in last week's state poll -- 14-0 before falling 23-17 in overtime.
UA is 7-1 all-time against Marysville, including a 34-7 win last year.