Coach Zebb Schroeder and his Olentangy Orange High School football team need no reminders as to whom they are playing this week.
The Pioneers play host to Big Walnut on Friday, Sept. 14, in what has been a hard-hitting rivalry between the two programs.
The Golden Eagles hold a 6-4 edge in the all-time series, but Orange has won the past three meetings, winning 35-10 last season, 47-0 in 2016 and 21-14 in 2015. The Pioneers also won 10-0 in 2012.
"The first thing I told the kids Saturday (Sept. 8) is about moving on to Big Walnut," said Schroeder, whose team dropped to 1-2 with a 42-7 loss to unbeaten Pickerington North on Sept. 7. "People forget that they were OCC(-Capital Division) champions last year. They are physical and they play football the right way, and their coaching staff does a great job of getting them ready to play."
Big Walnut, which also is 1-2, shared the OCC-Capital title with New Albany last season.
Running back Mark Roberts led the Pioneers' offense against North with 92 yards rushing on 15 carries, while quarterback Robbie Dayhuff had 69 yards rushing on nine carries. Jake Vanchieri scored Orange's lone touchdown on a 3-yard run.
"Those kids (at Orange) are coached well and very athletic," Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver said. "You're going to be up against a well-prepared team that has weapons everywhere."
One of the biggest weapons has yet to play a down this season. Zach Harrison, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound senior defensive end who is among the state's top college recruits, missed the first three games with a leg injury.
"It's kind of a week-to-week thing," Schroeder said. "Zach practiced last week and looked good, but maybe we can get the swelling to go down this week. He can practice, but (the swelling) has to be down a certain number of days for him to play."
Big Walnut quarterback Jagger Barnett was 17-for-24 passing for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for a 21-yard score in a 28-26 loss to Dublin Scioto on Sept. 7. Andrew VanHouten rushed for 94 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, and Craig Norman caught six passes for 59 yards.