Before his first season as Westerville North High School football coach, Scott Wetzel delivered a line that stuck with him all season.

Before his first season as Westerville North High School football coach, Scott Wetzel delivered a line that stuck with him all season.

"A friend asked me how this year could go and I told him that it felt at times like I was playing poker and I couldn't look at my cards," Wetzel said. "I know my cards now. I know what I am dealing with now."

Now that his rookie campaign with the Warriors is behind him, Wetzel is confident that indeed will be the case.

North lost its final six games after a 3-1 start to finish 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.

"We are moving in the right direction," Wetzel said. "The success of a football program is ultimately measured in wins and losses, but that doesn't always tell the whole story. Three wins is better than we had last year. This is a tough league to build a program in, and we have a lot of work to do in the offseason."

The Warriors, who went 0-10 in 2015, opened with wins over Groveport (24-21 on Aug. 26) and Thomas Worthington (33-10 on Sept. 2) and beat Canal Winchester 35-14 on Sept. 16 after losing to Upper Arlington 34-7 on Sept. 9.

North's other non-league loss was to New Albany, 40-14 on Sept. 23.

In OCC-Buckeye play, the Warriors lost to Olentangy Orange (24-20 on Sept. 30), Westerville Central (42-6 on Oct. 7), Westerville South (10-9 on Oct. 14), Olentangy (56-26 on Oct. 21) and Olentangy Liberty (35-14 on Oct. 28).

Despite some of the lopsided scores, North was within 28-26 of Olentangy in the third quarter before giving up the final 28 points. It led Liberty 7-0 after the first quarter and trailed the Patriots only 14-7 at halftime.

The Warriors were sixth in the OCC-Buckeye behind Liberty (5-0), Olentangy, Orange and Central (all 3-2) and South (1-4). Liberty, Olentangy and Orange qualified for the Division I, Region 2 playoffs.

"We knew that in the first half of the season, our schedule was friendlier," Wetzel said. "The kids kept grinding and they kept getting after people. Injuries hurt us. It was disappointing to see how many kids were on the sideline against Liberty. If everybody was healthy, who knows what we could have done?

"I almost hate to say our first game was our best victory, but it probably was. To get off on the right foot after going 0-10 and in our first game together, that was a great win for us. Any time you win, it's a great victory."

North lost senior linebacker Blake Klaus to a shoulder injury before the season began, senior defensive lineman Mason Hay to a leg injury after the first game and junior quarterback Julian Malone to a re-aggravation of a torn left ACL after six games. According to Wetzel, while Malone might have been able to return for the game against Liberty, he did not want to harm Malone's chances of being healthy for basketball season.

Malone, who originally was injured in January during basketball season, was 44-for-82 passing for 466 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Woods completed 17 of 49 passes for 398 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Junior fullback Bodi Bien led North in rushing with 757 yards and seven touchdowns on 155 carries despite a leg injury that sidelined him for two games in late September. Sophomore running back Robert Robinson added 394 yards and three touchdowns on 65 carries.

Senior wide receiver Brice Beverly, North's only first-team all-league honoree, led the team in catches (33), receiving yards (445) and receiving touchdowns (3).

Junior two-way lineman Alek Downs had a team-high 63 tackles, including 46 solo and 10 for loss. Senior defensive back Anthony D'Andrea led in interceptions with three. Both were named second-team all-league with senior offensive lineman Derek Downs, who also was named second-team all-district.

Bien was named special mention all-league and sophomore defensive lineman Jeremiah Burton (37 tackles) was honorable mention all-league. Bien and Burton also were honorable mention all-district with Beverly, Alek Downs and junior tight end/linebacker Rodney Van Cleaf.

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