The final week of the high school football regular season is already upon us and the races for league titles and playoff berths will be decided. Here is a look at Week 10 matchups for local squads:
The final week of the high school football regular season is already upon us and the races for league titles and playoff berths will be decided. Here is a look at Week 10 matchups for local squads:Central (7-2, 4-2) at Dublin Jerome (4-5, 4-2)
Westerville Central will look to secure its first postseason berth when it visits Dublin Jerome on Friday, Oct. 28.
The Warhawks are 7-2 overall and are tied with Jerome and Olentangy Liberty for second in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 4-2, behind Westerville South (5-1). They were second in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings through Week 8. The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs.
South visits Liberty on Oct. 28. A win by Liberty would create a three-way tie for first in the OCC-Cardinal involving South, Liberty and either Central or Jerome.
Central is looking to bounce back from a 24-19 loss to visiting Liberty on Oct. 21. Patriots quarterback Joey Longhino scored the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run with 1 minute left to end the Warhawks' four-game winning streak.
Central continues to be led by senior quarterback and linebacker Cody Kondas, who has completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,583 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
"Their quarterback is just incredible," Jerome coach Mark Hundley said. "When you have a quarterback/middle linebacker combination and the kid made it through the season, you know you have something special. He's done that and he's so effective on both sides of the football."
Jerome is 4-5 overall and has won two consecutive games, including a 24-12 win over Dublin Scioto on Oct. 21.
Junior running back Donovan Wilson rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries against Scioto.
"I wish we would have been smarter as coaches and figured out our offense a little sooner," Hundley said. "We have to get the ball to Donovan 25, 30 times a game. We knew we had to get it to him a bunch. We didn't think it was going to have to be 25, 30 times a game, but that's what we have to do."
The Celtics' season includes a 34-30 win over South on Sept. 30.
"They beat South," Central coach John Magistro said of Jerome. "That tells you how crazy this league is. We'll see if we can bounce back (from the loss to Liberty). We'll see what we're made of."
Jerome leads the all-time series 4-3, including a 43-22 win last season. This year marks the fourth year in a row that teams have met in the regular-season finale.
-Frank DiRennaNorth (0-9, 0-6) at Olentangy (4-5, 3-3)
There won't be a league title or a playoff berth on the line, but Westerville North still has plenty at stake when it visits Olentangy in the season finale Friday, Oct. 28.
The Warriors are trying to snap a 34-game losing streak and avoid a winless season. They are 0-9 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
Closing the season with a win "would be huge," coach Mike Owens said. "Not only would it be great for our seniors, who have truly invested themselves in our program, but for our younger players as well. It would be a nice springboard into next year."
North lost to Olentangy 44-12 last year and has not beaten the Braves since joining the OCC-Cardinal in 2008. Next year, the teams will be in different divisions with North remaining in the OCC-Cardinal and the Braves moving to the OCC-Capital.
North's last win was Sept. 19, 2008, a 21-17 victory over Westerville Central.
Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said his team, which is 4-5 and 3-3, better not overlook the Warriors.
"Once we start banging on Friday you better be prepared. Nothing comes easy in this league," Terwilliger said. "I guarantee they will be ready and it will be a dogfight."
Terwilliger said his team needs to sustain long drives and avoid giving up big plays. The Braves struggled with both in a 42-20 loss to Westerville South on Oct. 21, as the Wildcats scored four touchdowns of 35 yards or more.
Terwilliger also said he was concerned about the Warriors' spread offense, which is led by senior quarterback B.J. Campfield and senior running back Kory Watson.
In a 30-7 loss to Marysville on Oct. 21, Campfield had 82 yards rushing on 14 carries and Watson had 75 yards on 11 carries. North dominated the first-half time of possession, but all its drives stalled or resulted in a turnover.
"It will be a battle," Terwilliger said. "They spread the field, which is obviously a good thing to do against us. Their quarterback is really good. They do a nice job of designing plays for him to keep the ball."
Owens is concerned about Olentangy's size and running game dictating the tempo. The Braves use rotating running backs led by Ohio State recruit Joshua Perry, Derrick Rodgers and Matt Winings.
"They are very similar to Marysville as far as having powerful backs and an offensive line," Owens said. "Defensively, they do a very good job up front and with their linebackers. It's a solid, well coached football team."
-Paul BattersonSouth (6-3, 5-1) at Olentagy Liberty (5-4, 4-2)
Westerville South already has clinched its fourth consecutive OCC-Cardinal Division championship.
The Wildcats can secure the title outright with a win at Olentangy Liberty on Friday, Oct. 28.
South improved to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 42-20 victory over Olentangy on Oct. 21. Liberty, which improved to 5-4 and 4-2 with a 24-19 win over Westerville Central on Oct. 21, is tied for second in the league with Central and Dublin Jerome. Centrals plays at Jerome on Oct. 28.
If Liberty beats South, the Patriots and the winner of the Central-Jerome game will share the league title with the Wildcats.
"After what we've been through this season, that's exciting," said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team lost three of its first four games but has won four of its last five, including its last three contests. "We've had some significant injuries, but our kids have just shown tremendous heart and character all year long."
Liberty prevented South from going undefeated in league play last season, beating the Wildcats 39-27.
"You can't turn the ball over against them," South coach Rocky Pentello said of the Patriots. "We have to hit big plays on them. I don't think we can steadily drive the ball on them consistently. Somehow we have to find a way to control their scoring because they can score."
Against Central, Patriots quarterback Joey Longhino scored the winning touchdown on an 8-yard run with 1 minute left and completed 16 of 27 passes passed for 233 yards, and running back Myles Robinson rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.
Against Olentangy, South wide receivers Gary Brown and Kelly Carter combined for 227 yards on 12 catches. Wildcats running back Daxton Cates has rushed for 1,595 yards on 214 carries and has scored 20 touchdowns.
-Scott GerfenCleveland Benedictine (7-2) at DeSales (5-3)
With an 18th consecutive postseason berth likely wrapped up, DeSales will look to secure a home playoff game and possibly the No. 1 seed in Division III, Region 10 when it plays host to Cleveland Benedictine on Friday, Oct. 28.
Although the Stallions have beaten the Bengals the past four seasons, including 35-17 a year ago, Benedictine has emerged as one of the surprise teams in northeast Ohio this fall.
After the Bengals won back-to-back Division III state titles in 2003 and 2004, they went just 18-42 over the next six seasons.
This season, under first-year coach Ben Malbasa, Benedictine is 7-2 after beating Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 42-16 on Oct. 21.
DeSales was fifth in Region 10 before beating Cincinnati LaSalle 52-7 on Oct. 21 to improve to 5-3. Benedictine was sixth in Division III, Region 9 before Oct. 21.
"I know they've struggled the last several seasons, but they were playing a brutal schedule," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "Benedictine has a great tradition, and we know a little bit about tradition here. I think it's a great game heading into the playoffs."
Through eight games, Benedictine was led by Bryan Lacey (1,071 yards and 12 touchdowns) and quarterback Dan Piascik (70-for-139 passing for 1,056 yards with eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions). On Oct. 21, Lacey rushed for two touchdowns and Piascik added two touchdown passes.
Other key players for Benedictine include running backs Marshall Howell and Mike Roberts and lineman Joe Nawalaniec. Through eight games, Howell had 35 catches for 430 yards and Roberts had 33 receptions for 564 yards with four touchdowns.
The Bengals are giving up 21.3 points per game.
Against LaSalle, Warren Ball rushed 18 times for 68 yards and four touchdowns and J.T. Blubaugh had 71 yards on seven carries for DeSales. Quarterback Alex Perrine was 5-for-10 passing for 149 yards and rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Adam Dobner had a 10-yard fumble return for a score, Marq Pannell had two interceptions and Jalen Noble and Tim Doone added one interception apiece.
"It's always fun to travel far away when you can come away with a win," Wiggins said. "Defensively, we held them to seven points, we created several turnovers and even had a goal-line stand in the second half. We threw the ball down the field. It was just a great night. Our focus is to get better each and every week and get into playoff mode."