It was just less than a year ago that Westerville North High School football coach Bryan Johnson went to a game at Canal Winchester as a fan, rooting for his alma mater, Westland, even though the Indians were coached by longtime friend Josh Stratton.
On Friday, Sept. 14, Johnson will return to Canal Winchester with his team in tow to take on Stratton and the Indians as both squads seek their third win of the season.
Johnson graduated from Westland in 2000, two years after Stratton. Stratton's wife, Stacey, was one of Johnson's classmates.
"We played each other in 7-on-7 when I was at Liberty Union and we kept in touch even when he wasn't coaching in the area," Johnson said. "Westland guys stay in touch. I love seeing people from Westland do well. Josh has their program going in the right direction for sure. They have good numbers and a lot of talent."
North is coming off its first loss of the season, 31-21 at Mansfield Senior on Sept. 7.
Jahi Glass returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, running back Rondale Smith had a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and quarterback Auri Dover added a 15-yard score later in the fourth.
Canal Winchester won its second consecutive game Sept. 7, defeating host Teays Valley 14-7. Running back Tyler Toledo accounted for both of the Indians' touchdowns on a 9-yard run in the first quarter and a 1-yard run in the second. As a defensive back, he also had two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Freshman running back Stephan Byrd added 132 yards on 27 carries, a week after rushing for 270 yards in a 27-13 win over Olentangy Berlin.
"They're like Thomas (Worthington) in that they're a spread team and they want to run the ball well," Johnson said. "Their quarterback (Jack Beeler) is a second-year starter who knows how to run their system. Defensively, they want to get right after you. They have some size and fast guys we'll have to contend with."
North is 4-1 all-time against Canal Winchester, including a 47-21 win last year. The Warriors were 2-1 against the Indians when both teams were in the OCC-Cardinal Division from 2013-15.