It's clear to Pickerington High School Central football coach Jay Sharrett that his team will face an improving opponent during the second week of OCC-Ohio Division action.
On Friday, Oct. 6, the Tigers will play host to Lancaster in a matchup of teams in the hunt for Division I, Region 3 playoff berths.
Central blasted Gahanna 45-8 on Sept. 29 in its league opener to improve to 5-1, while the Golden Gales beat Grove City 28-14 that same night for their fourth consecutive win to move to 4-2.
Since Sharrett took over as coach in 2003, the Tigers have gone 171-34 but have lost more games to Lancaster than to any other opponent. Central is 9-6 against the Gales during his tenure, but has won six of the last seven meetings.
"It's a good rivalry," said Sharrett, whose team avenged a 20-14 loss to Lancaster in 2015 with a 27-7 victory last season.
Junior running back Jamir Jackson is expected to return to the lineup for the Tigers after sitting out the game against Gahanna. He is Central's second-leading rusher with 366 yards and leads the offense with nine touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw rushed 14 times for 94 yards and three touchdowns against Gahanna and has a team-best 407 yards and seven touchdowns rushing on the season. He also has completed 45 of 79 passes for 714 yards and two touchdowns.
Central had 12 players with at least one carry against Gahanna and finished with 363 yards of offense while limiting the Lions to 141 yards.
Gahanna quarterback Mike Lowery and running back Justus Harris both left the game with injuries.
Tigers senior Xavier Henderson, who returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, and senior Jalen Mitchell, who had an interception against the Lions, were among the top players on defense.
While the Lions run an offense that centers on short passes and the explosiveness of their receivers, Lancaster utilizes a power wing-T running game that features senior running back Shea Goss and includes several contributors.
Goss has rushed for 584 yards and eight touchdowns on 85 carries and has four receptions for 59 yards.
Gales junior quarterback Tyler Monk has completed 14 of 31 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions and has rushed for 118 yards and two scores.
Senior running back Brandon Barnette has 254 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including one receiving. Senior running back D.J. Pearson has rushed for 190 yards and two scores.
"You can tell their linemen are strong," Sharrett said. "You're definitely not going to get them out of position."