Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett certainly knew that his team had the potential to put together a great season, with a trio of Big Ten recruits leading the way for a squad which finished 11-1 in 2007.

Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett certainly knew that his team had the potential to put together a great season, with a trio of Big Ten recruits leading the way for a squad which finished 11-1 in 2007.

Yet, after the Tigers went 13-1 overall, won the OCC-Cardinal Division and won a Division I regional title, Sharrett said he didn't take their success for granted.

"A lot of people were saying that we should go undefeated, win our conference and win our region, but saying it and doing it are two different things," Sharrett said. "There's a lot of things that can go wrong during a season. You have injuries and illnesses, and when you receive as much hype as our team did, everyone wants to beat you. But to their credit, our kids didn't let anything distract them or slow them down. They played hard and got the job done."

The Tigers rolled through the regular season, winning every game by 17 points or more. Central faced only three teams that finished with winning records -- Upper Arlington (12-2), Lancaster (6-4) and Grove City (6-4). The Tigers beat UA 23-6 in the opener Aug. 22, pounded Lancaster 31-0 on Sept. 12 and hammered Grove City 37-19 on Oct. 17.

Central also won two rivalry games, beating North 38-7 on Sept. 19 in front of more than 10,000 fans in Crew Stadium and routing Reynoldsburg 28-0 on Oct. 24.

The Tigers won the OCC-Cardinal title with a 7-0 mark for their eighth league title in the past 10 seasons, as they finished ahead of Grove City (6-1), Gahanna (4-3), Lancaster (4-3), Groveport (3-4), North (3-4), Reynoldsburg (2-8) and Newark (0-7).

The third-seeded Tigers opened the Region 3 playoffs Nov. 1 by beating sixth-seeded Delaware 38-21 at home, then downed second-seeded UA 24-16 in a semifinal Nov. 8 at Gahanna.

Central topped Hilliard Davidson 7-3 in the regional final Nov. 15 at UA for its program-record 13th victory in a row, as junior free safety Josh Kristoff threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver/cornerback Patrick White.

It was Central's third regional title. In 1999, the Tigers reached a Division I semifinal, where they lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 48-8. Two years ago, Central advanced to the Division II state final, where it lost to Piqua 26-7.

"I think we answered the call, to an extent, by winning the OCC and region," senior linebacker Max Holbrook said. "We wanted more, of course, but this season would have been disappointing if we hadn't have won those championships."

The Tigers lost to Cincinnati Elder 24-10 in a state semifinal last Saturday at Dayton Welcome Stadium, giving up a season-high 404 total yards. Elder outscored Central 21-0 in the second half, after senior linebacker Zach Boren tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on a 3-yard run late in the second quarter and played sparingly the rest of the way.

"Zach was our leading tackler and that was a major hit to us, no doubt about it," Sharrett said.

The Tigers will lose eight senior starters on defense, including linemen Blaine Burgess, Cory Cosby, Jon Harlan and Paris Wadlington, inside linebackers Boren and Holbrook, strong safety Jamie Wood and White at cornerback.

Central's defense allowed 972 yards rushing on 452 carries and opponents were 116-for-269 passing for 1,287 yards. The Tigers forced 36 turnovers and allowed 8.9 points per game.

Boren and Wood are Ohio State recruits and White is a Michigan State recruit. All three players were first-team all-district and all-league.

Through 13 games, Boren had 177 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five batted passes and an interception to be named the district Player of the Year. Wood recorded 73 tackles, three interceptions, 21 batted passes, four forced fumbles and two tackles for a loss. White had 51 tackles, four forced fumbles, five tackles for a loss, six batted passes and two interceptions.

Holbrook was second-team all-district and Cosby was honorable mention all-district. Wadlington and Burgess were special mention all-district. Holbrook and Burgess were first-team all-league. Cosby and Wadlington were second-team all-league.

Three defensive starters are expected to return in Kristoff, sophomore strong safety Eilar Hardy and junior cornerback Malcolm Pannell.

Kristoff, who had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries, was second-team all-league. Hardy made three interceptions.

Central will lose nine senior starters on offense, including quarterback Nick Raymond, tackles Lacey Jackson and Adam Foltz, guards Jared DeVore and Dan Walter, receivers White and Wood and tight ends Burgess and Harlan.

Raymond was 126-for-246 passing for 1,629 yards, with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions to earn first-team all-league and special mention all-district honors. He also ran 315 yards and made 42 of 45 extra-point attempts.

White had 43 receptions for 637 yards and six touchdowns to be named the OCC-Ohio Player of the Year. Wood had 28 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 315 yards and four touchdowns on 44 carries.

Boren ran for 409 yards and 11 touchdowns on 93 carries.

Jackson was first-team all-district and second-team all-league. Senior backup tight end John Montgomery was honorable mention all-league.

The Tigers also will lose senior punter Adam Castin, who averaged 35.9 yards and made 11 of 21 field goals, to earn first-team all-league and second-team all-district honors.

Offensive starters expected to return are junior receiver Jared Miller, sophomore tailback Tyler Hammond, freshman center Jacoby Boren and junior left guard Bill Hinterschied.

Hammond rushed for 1,134 yards and eight touchdowns on 172 carries and was special mention all-district.

Miller made 20 receptions for 286 yards and three touchdowns.

"We've got a lot of underclassmen who got four extra games of experience and four extra weeks of practice, so our outlook for next season is good," Sharrett said.

At a glance

•Record: 13-1 overall, 7-0 in OCC-Ohio (first)

•Seniors lost: Bryan Almonte, Zach Boren, Blaine Burgess, Ron Burgess, Adam Castin, Kirk Caudill, Robert Cooper, Cory Cosby, Jared DeVore, Josh Dick, Adam Foltz, Jon Harlan, Max Holbrook, Kevin Jackson, Lacey Jackson, Dustin Kramer, Bryce Long, Kirk Matthews, John Montgomery, Dan Murray, Rico Paige, David Payne, Adam Poston, Nick Raymond, Bryan Rudolph, Larry Thomas, Troy Thompson, Paris Wadlington, Dan Walter, Patrick White and Jamie Wood

•Key returnees: Jacoby Boren, Tyler Hammond, Eilar Hardy, Bill Hinterschied, Josh Kristoff, Jared Miller and Malcolm Pannell