The Central Crossing and Upper Arlington high school football teams enter their OCC-Central Division showdown this week coming off lopsided losses and finding themselves in the middle of the league pack.

The Central Crossing and Upper Arlington high school football teams enter their OCC-Central Division showdown this week coming off lopsided losses and finding themselves in the middle of the league pack.

The Comets and Golden Bears both are 1-1 in the league, tied for second with Dublin Coffman and Olentangy Liberty behind Hilliard Davidson and Westland, both of which are 2-0.

Central Crossing had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 36-3 loss to Davidson on Sept. 25 to fall to 3-2 overall. That same night, UA's undefeated start came to an end with a 42-17 home loss to Liberty to drop to 4-1 overall.

Neither coach called the matchup Friday, Oct. 2, at UA a must-win, but realize its importance.

"This league is especially crazy right now," Comets coach Chris Harr said. "Most years, you'd probably have three or four teams in the mix. Right now, you have six in the hunt and Davidson's probably the favorite."

UA is 5-1 all-time against Central Crossing, but the lone loss was last year by a 35-21 score. That outcome, at least temporarily, changed the complexion of a series in which the Bears previously had outscored the Comets 299-40.

While the Comets' personnel largely is the same as it was last year, with 5-foot-11, 215-pound quarterback Deric Williamson running an offense that includes wide receivers Christian Miranda and Noah Stephens and the speedy Colter Bass at tailback, the Bears have several new players in key positions, led by quarterback Vince Murdocco and wide receiver and defensive back Tyrece Speaight.

Murdocco completed 13 of 19 passes for 233 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Liberty.

Speaight had his best offensive game as a Bear against the Patriots, catching five passes for 116 yards. UA rushed for 98 yards -- 186 below their season average through four games -- and lost a fumble.

"That (rushing yardage) definitely is not indicative of who we are," Bears coach Joel Cutler said. "Some of that was because we weren't in good down-and-distance situations, but that needs to change for us to be successful. (Central Crossing) likes to play some multiple formations and they're physical, but they won't use a ton of different coverages against us."

Williamson completed 26 of 45 passes for 227 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions against Davidson. Bass was held to 20 yards rushing on seven carries, but for the season has 417 yards and seven touchdowns on 43 carries.

"Deric has the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs," Harr said. "Where he has really taken off is in his mind. We have put some different and complex concepts into the offense, and he is making good calls and reads. He knows when to pull the ball and throw in different routes.

"What we've been better at lately, probably since week 2, is not wasting plays. We have to keep that up (against UA)."

Cutler offered a sentiment that could apply to both teams.

"Our kids came in (Sept. 26) and they were not pleased," he said. "They just kept saying they were disappointed and they know they can do better. We have a chance to bounce back. We simply have to execute. If we do that and perform well, things will take care of themselves."