The OCC-Central Division is expected to be an open race, with the Central Crossing and Olentangy Liberty high school football teams looking to be in the mix.

The OCC-Central Division is expected to be an open race, with the Central Crossing and Olentangy Liberty high school football teams looking to be in the mix.

The teams kick off league play Friday, Sept. 18, at Liberty.

The Patriots are 3-0 following a 28-6 victory over visiting Dublin Jerome on Sept. 11, while Central Crossing is 2-1. The Comets avenged a 26-7 loss to Beechcroft a year ago by defeating the Cougars 28-6 on Sept. 11 at home.

Last season, Liberty beat the Comets 30-8 to take a 4-0 lead in the series. The Patriots dominated those games, having outscored Central Crossing by an average of 32 points.

Despite his team's success in the series, Liberty coach Steve Hale is taking nothing for granted after Central Crossing turned around its 2014 season and qualified for the postseason for the first time.

"They're very talented," Hale said of the Comets. "Their senior class of athletes athletically puts them up against about anyone. They're big, they're strong and they're fast. They're not only good football players, they're good basketball players, they're good wrestlers, they're good track guys. They're loaded with talent."

Central Crossing is looking to build on its first winning season, which ended with a 50-13 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier in the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

Liberty made the playoffs in Division I, Region 1, losing to Lakewood St. Edward 41-12 in the second round, and OCC-Central opponents Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson also qualified for the Region 2 playoffs last year.

"League play is like a new season and our league is tough," Comets coach Chris Harr said. "A lot of the teams have winning records. We get to play an undefeated team in Liberty to start the league and we've never beaten them. ... It's going to be a tough task to start out league play."

Both teams feature a spread offense.

Liberty quarterback Alex Lando has passed for 553 yards and three touchdowns. His top receiving threats have been Will Fowler -- who had 102 yards receiving and touchdowns of 67 and 35 yards against Jerome -- Brendon White and Johnny Wiseman.

Trent Davies has been a key running back.

The Patriots' defense lost several key players to graduation, but with underclassmen moving into key roles, the unit has allowed just 13.7 points per game. White, a junior, also has been a key contributor in the secondary.

"We have to play disciplined football," Hale said. "We cannot turn the ball over and we have to keep the penalties to a minimum. That's going to be a focus for us all year long. We have some younger players in some spots and you just can't make those kinds of mistakes and expect those kids to rebound as well."

Central Crossing's offense has been led by quarterback Deric Williamson and running back Colter Bass, who rushed for 173 yards against Beechcroft. Bass' 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter helped the Comets pull away. Earlier, he scored on a 44-yard run.

The Comets also were boosted by the return of senior wide receiver/wing back Noah Stephens, who missed the first two games because of disciplinary reasons.

The Comets are averaging 28.7 points.

Central Crossing's defense also has contributed behind Blake Luebben and Lekan Oseni at linebacker and Mason Shimmel in the secondary. Shimmel had a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown to close the scoring against Beechcroft.