The Westerville North High School football team is 1-0 for the second consecutive year and third time in five seasons, but coach Scott Wetzel wanted to guard against complacency before the Warriors play host to Thomas Worthington on Friday, Sept. 1.
Not only did North hold Groveport to 98 total yards and six first downs in a 27-0 win Aug. 25, but the victory was the Warriors’ first by shutout since a 20-0 win over Central Crossing on Sept. 22, 2006.
“Our big challenge is, how do we handle success?” Wetzel said. “Do we sit back and say look at what we just did or do we come back and get back to work to fix a lot of the things we didn’t do well?
“We’re 1-0, but we need to execute better. We won and it wasn’t pretty. You never miss an opportunity to celebrate a win in high school football, especially when you compete in the OCC. But we have work to do.”
Bodi Bien’s 102 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries sparked the offense, which began its first four possessions in Cruisers territory. Quarterback/defensive back Jacob Woods ended Groveport’s first possession with an interception then threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Harvey on the ensuing offensive series.
Lineman Alek Downs recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
North’s win spoiled a festive night at Groveport, as before the game the Cruisers christened their new $750,000 synthetic turf that was paid for by program alumnus and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
The field was renamed Le’Veon Bell Field at Cruiser Stadium.
Thomas also is 1-0, coming off a 27-20 double-overtime win at Canal Winchester on Aug. 25 in coach Matt Zingery’s debut. Trailing 17-0 at halftime, the Cardinals shut out the Indians by that score in the second half to break a 17-game losing streak and win for the just the second time in 33 games.
Wide receiver Dakarey Williams caught a fade pass for a touchdown from quarterback Charlie Rhoades on the first possession of the second overtime, and linebacker Habib Bondu sacked Indians quarterback Stanton Smith on fourth down to end the game.
Thomas has not been 1-0 since 2013.
“They must have played pretty well,” Wetzel said. “They’re kind of like our program in that they’ve been in a little disarray lately. But they have tough kids and a coach that is energetic and getting after them a bit, I’m sure.”
North relied on its running game to defeat Thomas 33-10 in Week 2 last year. Robert Robinson rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, and Bien added 94 yards on 16 carries.