As the high school football season enters October, the contenders usually have separated themselves from the pretenders.

But in the OCC-Cardinal Division, coaches have been talking about how any team can beat another on Friday night, and the standings and scores seem to prove it's much more than a coaching clich.
"The great thing about our league is that there is a lot of parity," said Westerville North coach Chad Williams, whose team dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the league with last Friday's 17-16 loss to Dublin Scioto. "That was our third one-point loss of the season. We've just had some games that haven't gone our way."

When the Warriors travel to Olentangy Liberty on Friday they'll be trying to knock off a team that remains in control of its own fortunes in the championship hunt. The Patriots improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the league with last Friday's 21-16 victory over rival and undefeated Olentangy.

Liberty is one of three teams with one league loss behind Westerville South, which last Friday took care of Dublin Jerome 54-38 to improve to 3-3 overall and 3-0 in the league.

"The kids are pretty positive about the future, and with the Jerome loss we're back to controlling our own destiny again and I think that helps," coach Steve Hale said. "I think we've just been taking it one day at a time. We're still trying to get a cohesive group on both sides of the ball and I think we're close to doing that."

Senior running back Allen Eggleston, who missed the first two games with an injury, is averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Last Friday, he carried the ball 10 times for 51 yards.

Defenses have been determined to stop Liberty's rushing attack, but the strategy backfired on Olentangy, which allowed touchdown passes of 80 and 51 yards from quarterback Zach Michael to Cameron Whitner.

"They have some big play threats that can hurt you at any time," Williams said. "I really like a lot of things that Eggleston does. He's got break away potential on every play. We've got to be aware of that and make them drive the ball."

North senior quarterback Chris McCluney, who helped rally his team from a 17-3 deficit in the fourth quarter last Friday with a 19-yard touchdown pass and a 10-yard scoring run, can keep defenses honest with his running and throwing abilities.

A blocked extra point kept the Warriors from tying the game.

Liberty also will have to overcome North's size advantage up front.

"They're big and solid and they've got some talented skill players," Hale said. "McCluney has a solid cast around him. They're going to spread you out and look for ways to hurt you."

A year ago, North was shut out four times, including 28-0 by the Patriots in the opener, which marked the teams' first meeting.

Besides the one-point loss to Scioto and Jerome, the Warriors fell to the City League-South Division's Marion-Franklin 7-6 on Aug. 29.

"We have a great attitude and our kids are playing extreme hard," Williams said. "I think they realize how close we are to being a 5-1 team."