For the football teams at Gahanna Lincoln High School and Groveport, the game plan Friday's is simple: stop the guy with the '1' on his jersey.

For the football teams at Gahanna Lincoln High School and Groveport, the game plan Friday's is simple: stop the guy with the '1' on his jersey.

Groveport running back Le'Veon Bell and Gahanna tailback/wide receiver Earl Cunningham have been among the most dangerous offensive weapons in central Ohio this season. Bell has more than 1,150 yards rushing, including three games with more than 200 yards. Cunningham, who has lined up at quarterback, tailback and wide receiver, has 428 yards rushing, 435 yards receiving and has returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.

And they both were the No. 1.

Although their jersey numbers are identical, Bell and Cunningham have done their damage in different ways. Bell, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, is as powerful a runner as there is in the area, while the 5-8, 151-pound Cunningham has made a living with his change-of-direction ability and speed.

Gahanna coach John Snoad said with a runner like Bell, his players cannot afford to let their ego get in the way when they look to make a tackle.

"You've got to tackle him below the waist," Snoad said. "You're not going to take him up top. First of all, we're reaching up to tackle him above the waist. We're not a very big football team, so we've got to be able to tackle well. And he's got a long reach, so he's going to put that stiff-arm out, and that makes it difficult to get a handle on him."

With Cunningham, the more difficult task is not bringing him down, but rather getting in position to make the play.

"You definitely have to know where he's at and account for him," Groveport coach Tim Brown said. "You have to take away what he wants, and it looks like he wants to get the edge on you. Of course, with that kind of speed, if he gets to the edge, you're going to have a bad angle and he's going to score."

If Groveport can slow down Cunningham and pick up a win this week, it would have a good shot of advancing to the Division I, Region 3 playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The Cruisers are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division, and they were expected to be seventh in Region 3 when the rankings were released last Tuesday.

Gahanna lost its last five games to fall to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio. The Lions also are dealing with the sudden death of assistant coach Tim Nester, who collapsed before last Friday's game against Reynoldsburg. Nester was rushed to a hospital and died Sunday morning.

Gahanna is looking to put together a complete team performance for the first time since a 55-0 win over Newark on Sept. 18. Despite a fairly strong offensive performance, the Gahanna defense struggled in a 46-23 loss to Reynoldsburg last Friday. The Lions typically have been solid against the pass, but run defense has been a challenge in recent weeks. Opponents are gaining an average of 6.5 yards per carry against Gahanna on the season.

Groveport's offense has encountered problems when opposing defenses have crowded the line to stop Bell. Sophomore quarterback Shane Denny has showed his inexperience at times, but Brown said he is confident Denny can provide the balance Groveport needs.

"He's become a lot better, a lot more seasoned as we've gone along here," Brown said. "I think he'll do a lot better this week."

Gahanna's offense has shown a variety of looks, including some Wildcat plays with Cunningham taking the snaps. However, starting quarterback Tanner Zwelling also has had some success through the air. Zwelling threw for 120 yards and one touchdown in the loss to Reynoldsburg. Brice Frentzel had 157 yards receiving, including two catches for 70 yards on passes from Cunningham.

Rashawn Ponder and Bryan Walls each have seen significant action at tailback, along with Cunningham.

Groveport's defense relies heavily on the blitz and certainly will present a challenge to Gahanna's offensive line. The Cruisers, who shut out Gahanna 20-0 in the finale last season, are allowing an average of 20.1 points per game.