Westerville North High School football coach Scott Wetzel is a firm believer that a team's biggest improvement of the season comes between its first and second games.

Westerville North High School football coach Scott Wetzel is a firm believer that a team's biggest improvement of the season comes between its first and second games.

A dramatic, last-minute 24-21 victory over Groveport in the opener Aug. 26 did not change his mind, and that philosophy will be tested Friday, Sept. 2, when the Warriors visit Thomas Worthington.

"There is much to work on despite a great win. We have to be ready," Wetzel said. "One big thing we talked after the (Groveport) game was that they have to understand how to handle winning. The worst thing we could do is not continue to improve. We have to keep getting after it. But it is a lot nicer getting back to work coming off a win."

Despite the Warriors' recent struggles -- North had lost 35 of its past 40 games entering the season -- their win over Groveport made them 1-0 for the second time in four years. North has not been 2-0 since 2013.

Greg Shehee's 1-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left capped a drive that started at North's 25 with 4:53 to play. The Cruisers led 14-3 after a quarter and erased a 17-14 fourth-quarter deficit on a 98-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Huffman and Izeyah Aekins.

Bodi Bien rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries to lead North.

The Warriors will meet a Thomas team that squandered a few golden chances in its 24-21, double-overtime loss to Canal Winchester on Aug. 26.

The Cardinals were stopped on downs inside the Indians' 10-yard line and had a field goal blocked in the second overtime before Canal Winchester's Trevor Thompson made a game-ending 38-yard field goal.

Quarterback Nick Kendig leads Thomas' spread offense. Four-year starter Travis Sanders at defensive tackle and linebacker Charlie Kneessi lead the defense, which Wetzel said alternates between three- and four-player fronts.

North and Thomas have not played since 2005, a game the Warriors won 23-7.

"They have solid skill (position) guys with speed that we can't let get open," Wetzel said. "They're in a similar position as us. They are trying to build on something. I know we haven't played them recently, and it's one of those games that might have gotten on the schedule as two teams who have struggled some so let's take our chances against each other. Both teams are trying to build a program. We'll see what we've learned and go from there."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave