When coach Bob Gecewich took over the Dublin Jerome High School football program in January, an early objective was to find a replacement for 2015 graduate Alex Cline at quarterback.

When coach Bob Gecewich took over the Dublin Jerome High School football program in January, an early objective was to find a replacement for 2015 graduate Alex Cline at quarterback.

In stepped Zack Hazlett, a 6-foot, 157-pound senior who had some experience at the position and showed interest in leading the team's spread offense. Midway through the season, Hazlett and the offense have shown steady progress.

"Zack is playing great," said Gecewich, whose team is 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. "Zack is getting it done. He makes this whole thing churn and, when he does, then you see young kids step up. He's a tough kid. During camp, Zack stood out athleticism-wise, but also you saw the growth. You see him become more comfortable back there."

Jerome earned its first win under Gecewich in week 4, beating host Hilliard Bradley 35-12 on Sept. 18, and was competitive in a 31-20 home loss to unbeaten Hilliard Darby on Sept. 25. Darby is 5-0 overall and tied for first in the league with Westerville Central at 2-0.

The Celtics play host to winless Westerville North on Friday, Oct. 2. The Warriors are 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Hazlett played quarterback from fourth grade in the Dublin Football League through his freshman year at Jerome.

Cline earned the starting job in Hazlett's sophomore season, with Hazlett playing running back, slotback and wide receiver the past two seasons. Last season, Cline completed 193 of 354 passes for 2,315 yards with 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and was named first-team all-league and special mention all-district in Division II.

Injuries have hindered Hazlett's prep career. A severely sprained ankle forced him to miss the final three games of his sophomore season and he missed four games last season with a separated shoulder sustained during practice. He had 27 catches for 257 yards last season.

"It was pretty upsetting, but I knew I couldn't worry about getting hurt again because that's when I do get hurt instead of playing like I usually do," Hazlett said.

Hazlett said he is back to full strength and is enjoying guiding the offense in Gecewich's first season.

"We're starting to finally learn because he's a great coach," Hazlett said. "We're finally starting to get it. I'd like to see us win out because I think we definitely can. We've shown that we've gotten a lot better."

Against Darby, Hazlett completed 15 of 25 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 40 yards and a score on eight carries.

Running back Ryan Prochko rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on six carries and wide receiver Ty Henderson had six catches for 70 yards.

"We've improved a lot because Darby is one of the best teams we've played," Hazlett said. "We've played a lot of really good teams, but Darby was definitely up there and we played them tough. We took them to the end."

Gecewich said his team must prepare for an improving North team, which led Scioto 7-0 at halftime on Sept. 25 but eventually lost 14-7.

Quarterback Julian Malone led the Warriors, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Jerome defeated North 42-41 in three overtimes last season and leads the series 7-0.

"They have a sophomore quarterback (Malone) who is a really good athlete," Gecewich said. "They have some pieces around him. They're probably in about the same spot as us, just shooting themselves and haven't put everything together. We're pretty comparable in that aspect."