The jokes likely have been flying this week as Nate Hillerich and Tennyson Varney prepare to face one another for the first time.

Hillerich is in his first season as the Pickerington High School North football coach and Varney is in his first year as coach at Grove City, but the two have a past.

During the first four years of Hillerich's seven-year tenure as coach at Hamilton Township, Varney was the Rangers' offensive coordinator.

Their new ventures will match up Friday, Oct. 6, when Grove City plays host to the Panthers in an OCC-Ohio Division contest.

"I have a lot of respect for Tennyson," Hillerich said. "He was my offensive coordinator for four years, and he and I went to Ohio Dominican together. We're close friends and we talk all the time."

On the opening night of league play Sept. 29, North beat Reynoldsburg 35-7 to improve to 5-1 and Grove City lost to Lancaster 28-14 to fall to 1-5.

The Dawgs snapped a 16-game losing streak Sept. 22 with a 55-23 victory over Franklin Heights, which is where Varney coached the last three seasons, including a year ago when he led the Falcons to the Division II playoffs.

The addition of senior running back Devin Dukes, a transfer from Ready who has 778 yards rushing and eight touchdowns since being ruled eligible to play by the OHSAA in Week 2, has helped the Dawgs' offense.

Senior quarterback Austin Sigler is 71-for-121 passing for 841 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions and has a rushing touchdown, and junior running back D.J. Gatewood has 299 yards rushing.

North finished with 504 yards of offense against Reynoldsburg as quarterback Jimmy Weirick was 10-for-19 passing for 162 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for 188 yards and one score.

Weirick has completed 73 of 142 passes for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns and is the Panthers' leading rusher with 449 yards and seven scores.

Larry Martin rushed 15 times for 126 yards against the Raiders and has 194 yards rushing on the season. Senior Kevaughn Robinson, who has rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns, missed the Reynoldsburg game with a shoulder injury and is questionable for the contest against Grove City.

North limited Reynoldsburg to 194 yards of offense as junior linebacker Ben Johnson had 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, freshman linebacker Jack Sawyer had seven tackles and two tackles for loss and senior linebacker Eli Davis had six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

"I've told everybody that (defense is) the strength of our team," Hillerich said. "In the first half (against the Raiders), we had five or six three-and-outs.

"Devin Dukes is one of the best running backs in the area, and we've got to be ready."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek