After three games, chances seemed unlikely that Friday's meeting between the Westerville South and host Dublin Jerome high school football teams would be a significant one.

After three games, chances seemed unlikely that Friday's meeting between the Westerville South and host Dublin Jerome high school football teams would be a significant one.

Jerome, struggling with injures, was 1-2. South, struggling with turnovers, was 0-3 and had scored just 10 points on offense. With OCC-Cardinal Division play about to begin, neither looked like a contender.

But both have won their last two and are 2-0 in the league, with Jerome toppling Olentangy Liberty 14-10 last Friday to move to 3-2 overall and South fending off Dublin Jerome 24-20 last Friday to improve to 2-3 overall.

South scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter as it overcame a 17-0 first-half deficit.

"This game is really important," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "The team that wins keeps the driver's seat. It's important to be the team that controls its own destiny."

Pentello said South's ability to hold onto the football has been the difference. After committing 13 turnovers in its first three games, the Wildcats have just two since. With that in mind, he's not surprised the team has turned its season around.

"I think the kids are starting to believe that this is what we could have been if we hadn't been turning the ball over," Pentello said. "We're at the same mindset we were were two weeks ago. We need to take care of us and quit making turnovers."

Pentello said he was impressed with Jerome's Kevin Jackson, who completed 21 of 39 passes for 276 yards against Liberty. Pentello said keeping Jackson contained was one of the biggest keys for his team.

Jerome coach Mark Hundley said South is a difficult team to get a handle on.

"You look at the teams they've played and you can't get a good feel for what they do," he said. "They didn't do well against (Clayton Northmont in a 42-12 loss Sept. 5), but in some of the other games they were fighting and scraping. But they're definitely a big, physical team."

From South, quarterback Cortez Fleming -- who had 184 yards of total offense last Friday -- and left tackle Ricky Harris were two of the first names Hundley mentioned.

"We played them last year and it looked like (Fleming) was still working on his option reads," Hundley said. "What we've seen on film so far it looks like he has that down."

Hundley also mentioned South middle linebacker Jamar Williams, a player he called "just incredible."

Jerome could be bolstered by the return of running back Cody Burress (collarbone) and offensive lineman and defensive end Josh Vradenberg (shoulder), two of the nine starters lost in the second and third games.

"The last couple of weeks we've been kind of a MASH unit," Hundley said. "We're really still trying to figure out who we are."

If more healthy players will be a plus for Jerome, a new positive outlook should be a benefit for South. Players said the win over Scioto has created a new feeling in the locker room.

"It gave us a whole new confidence," Williams said. "Coming off those loses early in the season, getting two wins gave a whole new respect for the team."

A victory over Jerome would cement South as a contender.

"To go to 3-0 in the league, that would put us up there and really give us a chance to play for a championship this year," Williams said.

At a glance



•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2007, Jerome 27-14

•Jerome (3-2 overall, 2-0 OCC-Cardinal) to date: Defeated Reynoldsburg 28-0; lost to Hilliard Darby 42-28; lost to Groveport 27-7; def. Westerville North 14-13; def. Olentangy Liberty 14-10

•Top Celtics: Mike Adolph, Robert Carmona, Kevin Jackson, Steve Mehrer and Connor Rosenbaum

•Of note: This is the third meeting, with South having won the first 7-3 two years ago.



•Star: South's Cortez Fleming, who rushed 23 times for 95 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes

•Key play: Ryan Clark scored the winning touchdown on a 15-yard run with 1:33 to play.

•Key stat: On its final two touchdown drives, South ran the ball on 21 of 22 plays.