The Reynoldsburg High School football team has gained a reputation for having a solid front seven, led by junior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix.

The Reynoldsburg High School football team has gained a reputation for having a solid front seven, led by junior defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix.

He's the person that Pickerington North coach Tom Phillips will be concerned about blocking when the two teams meet Friday at North.

Nix (5-foot-11, 240 pounds) made life tough for Newark last Friday during the Raiders' 10-3 win. He had 8.5 tackles with seven of those being tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks. He also broke up a pass, as the Raiders improved to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

"(Newark) was really limited in what they were going to do because he dominated," Reynoldsburg coach Steve Evans said. "They could only use certain formations. In the first half he was unblockable."

Phillips, whose team lost to Pickerington North 38-7 last Friday to fall to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio, took notice, and there's a chance a game of cat-and-mouse could develop between North's offensive line and Reynoldsburg's defensive line.

The Raiders will move Nix around depending on the situation. On any play he can occupy any of the four spots along the defensive line. North wants to make sure they have him accounted for on every play, and they can use Jairus Campbell to do it. Campbell is a 6-5, 240-pound offensive lineman that has been recruited to play at Bowling Green.

Campbell will line up a tackle on most plays, but Phillips said he's not going to be opposed to moving Campbell around to try to put him up against Nix. Then, North might not have as big of a need to double-team him, freeing up other blockers in case the Raiders try to blitz the Panthers' spread formations.

"We have to make sure we get the right people on him," Phillips said of Nix. "You have got to have a lot of check-with-me at the line of scrimmage (plays)."

Evans said the strength of his team is the play of the front seven. The Raiders allowed 84 yards rushing to Newark. Against North, a large chunk of the focus will shift from stopping the run to defending the pass.

North runs an offense designed to get the ball to Alex Bayer, a 6-4, 226-pound tight end that has also committed to Bowling Green.

Bayer isn't one to burn defenders with speed, but he has a big frame and what Phillips called "great hands." His hands, Phillips said, were the main reason Bowling Green was interested. Bayer has 27 catches for 400 yards. He has been far and away quarterback Sean Flaherty's favorite target.

The Panthers' second-leading receiver, Chris Johann has 11 receptions. A big focus in preparation for Reynoldsburg was to change that ratio, especially after seeing how Pickerington Central defenders closed in on Bayer last Friday.

Bayer still had 10 catches for 61 yards, but Phillips wants to see other players do a better job of drawing attention away from their No. 1 receiver. Two players who could do that are running backs Matt Ferguson and Kevin Duckworth. Both have been thrust into starting roles with Gianni Lynch hurt.

"We will not win if we don't look to throw the ball other ways," Phillips said. "I challenged my offense. We need to spread the ball around and make sure we're reading our keys."

North's multiple-front 50 will see its first option team this season. A key this week in preparation is going to be mastering the concepts of stopping an option attack.

"They run the ball," Phillips said of a Reynoldsburg team that prefers to limit their passing attempts to 15 per game or less. "They're in the system where they're going to take some time off the clock and be patient and be consistent."

When North's offense is on the field, Reynoldsburg's linebackers and defensive backs are going to have to defend in space and the onus will be on the front four to get pressure on Flaherty with an occasional linebacker coming off the edge.

Linebackers in the 4-3 alignment are Patrick Gundelfinger, Huss Trowery (6-4, 215) and Jeremy Cook. Trowery was first-team all-OCC Buckeye last season. He and Gundelfinger had interceptions last Friday. Cook was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye last year.

On offense, Trowery is also featured on the fullback dive play, a staple of the triple option. When Trowery or Josh Wilson is not taking it up the middle, quarterback J.C. Gibson is usually rolling out for a quarterback keeper.

The Raiders will also hand the ball to slotbacks Rodney Smith or Brandon Mitchell on sweeps or pitch-outs.

Next game


•When: 7 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Reynoldsburg to date (3-2, 1-1 OCC-Ohio): Defeated Central Crossing 14-12; lost to Logan 35-14; def. Mifflin 30-12; def. Groveport 9-0; lost to Pickerington Central 38-7

•Top Raiders: Jeremy Cook, J.C. Gibson, Roosevelt Nix, Rodney Smith and Huss Trowery