In its last two games, the New Albany High School football team has pulled itself back into contention for the OCC-Capital Division title. But all the work will be for naught if the Eagles can't get it done Friday at Mount Vernon.

In its last two games, the New Albany High School football team has pulled itself back into contention for the OCC-Capital Division title. But all the work will be for naught if the Eagles can't get it done Friday at Mount Vernon.

The Eagles are in a three-way tie atop the OCC-Capital with Delaware and Olentangy Orange each at 4-1.

"All the games leading up to this one were all big games," said coach Mark Mueller, whose team defeated Delaware 42-21 last Friday to improve to 6-3 overall. "And this one's a huge game also because it could give us a share of the OCC title. There's a chance this program could do something it's never done."

New Albany, which joined the OCC-Capital for the 2006 season, hasn't finished better than second in the league.

While the Eagles and Mount Vernon are playing each other, Delaware and Olentangy Orange face off at Orange.

In addition to the league implications of that game, Delaware would do New Albany a favor by beating an Orange team that was ranked higher than the Eagles in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings released two days before last Friday's game.

New Albany was 15th in Region 7 with 10.2125 points. Orange was eighth (14.2625) before beating Hilliard Bradley 42-0 last Friday. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

New Albany made it as the No. 8 seed in 2006 and eventually won a regional championship. That was the last time the Eagles qualified for the playoffs.

Mount Vernon is coming off a 28-0 loss to Big Walnut last Friday, which dropped the Yellow Jackets to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital.

Mount Vernon coach Gary Keller understands what Friday's game means to New Albany and he said his players are going to match the Eagles' intensity.

"There's no question that they're going to be fired up and excited, and rightfully so," Keller said. "They're playing for a lot. Everything is on the line for them."

These teams met on a sloppy field last year with New Albany winning 3-0. Keller said this year's New Albany team has looked different on film from last year, using the word "explosive."

Last year, the focus was on stopping the Eagles running game. This season, Keller is equally worried about the pass.

New Albany quarterback Joe Morlan was 7 of 12 passing last Friday for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He threw two touchdown passes to Jordan Gallegos (60, 50) and a 53-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Collins.

"For us, it will be controlling their passing attack," Keller said. "They seem like they have big-play people. Their quarterback looks like the best in the conference and he's playing with two receivers that have speed and can catch the ball in a crowd."

Morlan's other top receiving target is Chandler Tunney. Alex Hake and Ben Imlay have been steady in the running game.

They'll be facing a base 4-2 Mount Vernon defense that returned nine starters from last year and has proven to be a team strength.

Leading the defensive line are John Fernandez, Tyler Lewis, Josh Wright and Zak Palmer.

The linebackers are Bradley Fenton, Alec Curry and Derek Baker. The defensive backs are led by Kolton Wilson and Ethan Grant.

Wilson had 10 tackles in a 35-0 loss to Orange on Sept. 18. And the Yellow Jackets have blocked six punts this season Keller said.

New Albany's defensive front led by linemen Harrison Scott and Tyler Evans stymied Delaware's rushing attack. It held the Pacers to 70 yards rushing until the starters came out with 5 minutes remaining in the game.

Bryant Bednarek and Gallegos start at cornerback, but have gone largely untested in recent weeks. Gallegos has also been used lately as a receiver from the running back spot.

Mount Vernon's offense runs the wing-T and is under the direction of sophomore quarterback Shawn Maxwell. Jordan Williamson (6-0, 190) is the featured running back. Maxwell has been thrust into the starting role after Kody Green went down with an injury.

Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, New Albany 3-0

•New Albany to date (6-3, 4-1 in OCC-Capital): Defeated Westerville North 33-28; lost to Westerville Central 34-28; lost to DeSales 13-6; def. Hilliard Bradley 41-14; def. Watkins Memorial 37-10; lost to Olentangy Orange 37-22; def. Thomas Worthington 26-23 (2OT); def Big Walnut 27-20; def. Delaware 42-21

•Mount Vernon to date (3-6 overall, 2-3 in OCC-Capital): Lost to Lexington 42-17; lost to Wooster 16-15; def. Mansfield Madison 41-12; lost to Olentangy Orange 35-0; lost to Delaware 35-16; lost to Worthington Kilbourne 29-22; def. Hilliard Bradley 29-7; def. Watkins Memorial 49-14; lost to Big Walnut 28-0

•Top Eagles: Bryant Bednarek (DB), Kevin Collins (WR), Alex Hake (RB), Ben Imlay (RB), Joe Morlan (QB) and Harrison Scott (DL), Chandler Tunney (WR)

•Top Yellow Jackets: John Fernandez (DL), Shawn Maxwell (QB), Jordan Williamson (RB) and Kolton Wilson (DB)