Of the nearly 70 high school football teams in the ThisWeek coverage area, about half still have realistic hopes of making the postseason with four weeks left in the regular season.

In other words, the playoffs are essentially starting for some teams as early as Friday, Oct. 6.

Here are five things to watch heading into Week 7:

1. Undefeated Olentangy Orange should face its toughest opponent to date when it plays at Olentangy on Oct. 6.

Orange continued its breakthrough season with a 26-0 victory over Westerville North on Sept. 29 as junior defensive end and tight end Zach Harrison returned from a leg injury to catch a pair of touchdown passes and lead the defense. The Pioneers are 6-0 for the first time in program history.

Olentangy is 5-1 and seemingly has used a 31-7 loss at Reynoldsburg on Sept. 8 as a turning point.

The Braves, who have won three games in a row, have decided to go with Riley Bruening at quarterback, and he threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-23 victory over Westerville South on Sept. 29.

2. Which team will bounce back when Gahanna plays at Reynoldsburg?

A pair of teams that didn't make the playoffs last year but are 4-2 this season will meet when Reynoldsburg plays host to Gahanna on Oct. 6.

Both teams are coming off decisive losses Sept. 29, with the Raiders falling 35-7 at Pickerington North and the Lions losing at home to Pickerington Central 45-8.

Gahanna had two of its key skill-position players, quarterback Mike Lowery and running back Justus Harris, suffer injuries against the Tigers.

3. Hilliard Darby visits Thomas Worthington on Oct. 6 in a key matchup.

The Panthers and Cardinals both are 3-3 and have had moments when they've looked like playoff teams. Their matchup could go a long way toward determining whether one or both stay in the postseason picture.

The three opponents the Panthers have lost to are a combined 15-3.

The Cardinals have lost three consecutive games, but were competitive in each. Their opponents in those games are a combined 13-5.

4. Worthington Kilbourne visits Dublin Scioto on Oct. 6 in the Battle of Hard Road.

Although both the Wolves and Irish have had their ups and downs, emotions are always high when they meet for a chunk of asphalt that represents the Hard Road trophy.

Scioto is 2-4 after falling to Dublin Coffman 42-7 on Sept. 29, while Kilbourne is 3-3 and in the Division II, Region 7 playoff hunt after beating Delaware 31-0 that same night.

5. DeSales is beginning a daunting three-game stretch in its schedule.

The Stallions are 4-2 and in the mix to make it back to the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.

To complete that task, they'll likely have to win one or two of their next three games, and that won't be easy. They travel Oct. 6 to Trenton Edgewood, which is 5-1 and was a Division II playoff team last season, and then play Oct. 13 at Hartley and Oct. 20 at home against Cincinnati Winton Woods, which are 5-1 and 6-0, respectively.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek