Westerville North High School football coach Rodger Elander has reason to believe his team is closing in on its first win in almost a year.

Westerville North High School football coach Rodger Elander has reason to believe his team is closing in on its first win in almost a year.

The Warriors, who are 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering their game at Dublin Jerome on Friday, Oct. 2, had the statistical edge in a few key categories in a 14-7 loss to Dublin Scioto on Sept. 25. North outgained the Celtics 237-205 in total yards, including a 195-176 edge in rushing.

But 11 penalties as well as failures to capitalize on three Scioto turnovers and a lengthy drive late in the fourth quarter doomed the Warriors, who are seeking their first win since Oct. 24, 2014, when they defeated Canal Winchester 17-14.

"Our defense really has been playing very well lately," Elander said. "Offensively, we have been seeing more consistency. We've had some sustained drives. We have mixed the run and pass well at times. But down in the red zone, we have not capitalized."

Quarterback Julian Malone rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Scioto, increasing his season totals to a team-high 330 yards and three scores on 76 carries.

North is 0-7 all-time against Jerome, including a 42-41 loss in triple overtime last year.

Jerome fell to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 31-20 loss to Hilliard Darby on Sept. 25.

Quarterback Zack Hazlett completed 14 of 24 passes for 177 yards, a touchdown and an interception and ran for a 2-yard touchdown to pace the Celtics, who are led by first-year coach Bob Gecewich. Gecewich previously was an assistant coach at Maria Stein Marion Local, which has won the past two Division VII state championships after winning Division VI titles in 2011 and 2012.

Other top offensive players for Jerome include wide receivers Connor Barco and Ty Henderson, and running back Ryan Prochko. The Celtics' defense is anchored by linemen David Feng and Ty Scott and linebackers Collin Hannan and Daniel Lex.

"They'll run some spread stuff on offense like they used to, but they're not afraid to line up in some old-fashioned I-back or pro sets," Elander said. "They're a strong, aggressive team with a lot of threats."