If Westerville North High School football coach Scott Wetzel drew up his team's schedule, he wouldn't have put games against his team's two biggest rivals in consecutive weeks.
The Warriors play host to Westerville Central on Friday, Oct. 6, before visiting Westerville South on Oct. 13.
But as far as Wetzel is concerned, one bright side to the schedule is that his team won't overlook either opponent.
"I've been doing this a long time and I've found some schools don't have that true rival," Wetzel said. "It's nice being in Westerville that there are two games we circle every year. Your team wants to get after it a little more in these kinds of weeks. The big thing in a week like this is to focus and let the rivalry take its course, because it will."
Both teams are 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
North lost 26-0 to undefeated Olentangy Orange on Sept. 29. That same night, Central came back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit and led briefly late in the game before falling to Olentangy Liberty 31-28.
This is the first of three consecutive weeks in which the three Westerville schools play each other. Central plays host to South on Oct. 20.
The Warhawks lead the all-time series 8-1, including a 42-6 win last year. North won the teams' first meeting, 21-17 in 2008.
"The kids all know each other. It's been a rivalry for years, definitely before I got here (in 2009)," Central coach John Magistro said. "(Wetzel) has simplified things over there. They play football the way it's supposed to be played; they block well and tackle well. They're not sophisticated, and they're more successful. When players believe in what you do, that's half the battle."
North averaged 27 points per game before being held to 32 total yards by Orange and committing three turnovers.
For the season, Bodi Bien has rushed for 578 yards and three touchdowns on 113 carries, and Rondale Smith has rushed for 280 yards and five touchdowns on 71 carries.
Quarterback Reno Godfrey, who has seen more time in recent weeks as incumbent starter Jacob Woods concentrates on defensive duties, has completed 27 of 58 passes for 331 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Rodney Van Cleaf leads North receivers with 12 catches for 180 yards.
Linebackers Greg Shehee (39 tackles) and Alek Downs (30) help lead a defense that also includes Division I recruit and two-way lineman Jeremiah Burton.
"We'll see how our offensive line handles them," Magistro said. "We've gone against some really good defensive fronts and we are improving. We are young, but we're getting better."
Central led Liberty 28-24 in the fourth quarter and fell behind on Mitchell Okuley's 28-yard touchdown pass to Ben Roderick with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left. The Warhawks got to their own 40-yard line in the final minute but did not convert on fourth-and-1.
Allen Smith rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries, and quarterback Isaiah Healy threw touchdown passes to Drew Fischer (19 yards), Ashton Gilkey (11), Cam Phillips (24) and Myles Williamson (15). Healy completed 23 of 32 passes for 238 yards with two interceptions.
"They'll spread the field and they're pretty sound in what they do," Wetzel said. "They run and pass pretty evenly. We're going to have to gang-tackle (Smith); he's that good. Our schedule is a grind and this is a big challenge."