With Ohio high school football now at the midpoint of the regular season, how each team's season ultimately will be defined is about to come into focus.

With Ohio high school football now at the midpoint of the regular season, how each team's season ultimately will be defined is about to come into focus.

We're about to learn whether Lancaster really is as good as the 5-0 start it improved to by beating Pickerington North 35-17 on Sept. 25 in the ThisWeekSPORTS.com Game of the Week.

It's also time to discover whether Dublin Coffman can bounce back from being outscored by a combined 59-7 in back-to-back losses a year after posting a perfect regular-season record.

For teams like New Albany and Pickerington Central, we'll find out if tough early losses ultimately overshadow the success each program believes it is capable of.

About the only thing that's clear is that of Franklin County's 48 teams, about two-thirds still have realistic hopes of either making the playoffs or staying in their respective league championship races. The next two or three weeks will be crucial for those teams.

For coaches like New Albany's Pat Samanich, there's just too little time during the season to even dwell on what might have been.

The Eagles opened with a 48-42 double-overtime loss to Reynoldsburg on Aug. 28 and squandered a 17-point halftime lead in their next game, a 41-37 loss to Westerville Central on Sept. 4.

Those are the kinds of setbacks that wrecked last season for Pickerington North, which lost five of its first six games, including one in overtime and two others by one point, and had to settle for a 4-6 finish.

Undeterred by its start, New Albany bounced back to win its next three games and is 3-2 after a 49-21 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 25.

"If you go back to our play, we were ahead in (our first two games)," Samanich said. "A handful of plays are the difference between us (starting) 0-2 and 2-0. We haven't talked about (starting) 0-2. We talk every single week about being 1-0."

Having a short memory certainly helps, as does a team's ability to not view itself at face value.

The Pickerington Central coaching staff is used to doing that.

In 2011, a Tigers team that had current college players like Ohio State's Jacoby Boren and Bowling Green's Roger Lewis started 0-2 but ended up being the Division I state runner-up.

The Tigers have won at least a share of nine consecutive league titles but lost their OCC-Ohio Division opener Sept. 18 to Lancaster 20-14, as the Golden Gales' defense made a goal-line stand in the final two minutes.

Pickerington Central also lost to Trotwood-Madison in its opener, falling 32-25 on Aug. 28 despite holding a 25-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Rather than dwell on losing two games in painful fashion, Tigers coach Jay Sharrett has kept the focus on why his team nearly won those games.

"One of the things you remind (the players) is that even though it was a tough loss, it was a great effort," Sharrett said. "You can always enjoy a win or sulk after a loss, but we make sure we emphasize (our effort) when we go into the next week."

A year ago, Gahanna played with enough urgency to qualify for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs as the No. 14 seed, winning seven consecutive games after starting 0-2.

Now imagine being in the shoes of Beechcroft and Watterson, both of which have only nine regular-season games this year to post enough victories for a playoff resume.

To quote former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, who died Sept. 22, "it gets late early out there."

That sentiment couldn't be truer in prep football for every team that didn't get off to the start it hoped for or anticipated, especially now that it's October, when regular-season games are more precious than ever.