Two high school football teams at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of momentum will meet Friday, Sept. 21, when Gahanna Lincoln plays host to Westerville Central.
In the final week of the non-league schedule for both teams, the Lions take a 2-2 record into the matchup but are coming off a 41-40 double-overtime victory over New Albany on Sept. 14 in which they rallied from a 21-point deficit.
The Warhawks are 3-1 but lost to Pickerington North 52-7 on Sept. 14.
Gahanna beat Central 24-3 last season and leads the series 3-1, including defeating the Warhawks in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
“Obviously we had a pretty bad night on (Sept. 14), and I think we’re just looking to move past that,” Central coach Brent Morrison said.
“We obviously went in (the day after the game) and got all of those mistakes cleaned up. We’re expecting it to be a hard-fought game because the games against them are always hard-fought.”
Against New Albany, Justus Harris rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns and had five catches for 108 yards and two scores, including the tying touchdown from 25 yards in the second overtime.
Kicker Tyler Koss then made the extra point for the victory.
The Eagles scored on their possession in the second overtime to take a 40-34 lead, but missed the extra point.
Cam Morris had two touchdown receptions for the Lions. Quarterback Will Thomas fumbled and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, but he also completed 11 of 21 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns.
Lineman Dontay Hunter II, a Purdue commit, has been leading Central’s defense.
“With our schedule, every win’s a huge win,” Gahanna coach Bruce Ward said. “If we execute and play, we can play some football. We challenged (Thomas) to bounce back and forget about it. Being a young kid, you’re going to make some mistakes, but we need to see the growth and I thought we saw that in the second half.”
Against North, Central quarterback LaBronz Davis II was limited to 5-for-16 passing for 25 yards with one interception. Zeke Healy rushed for 48 yards on five carries, and Justin Carter had 31 yards on 14 rushes.
Gahanna’s defense has been led by linebackers David Williams and Zadji Hoxha, but Hoxha suffered an injury in the second half against New Albany and was carted off the field.
According to Ward, Hoxha was showing positive signs of recovering the day after the game, but his status moving forward is uncertain.
“One of the biggest keys for us is stopping their run game, and for us, we’ve got to make sure offensively we’re taking what they give us,” Morrison said.