Four combined points in its first two games kept the Northland High School football team from getting its first win.
But in Week 3, the Vikings got a potentially season-changing victory over Granville (28-21 on Sept. 7). They then opened their City League-North Division schedule with a 35-0 victory over Centennial on Sept. 14 and avenged one of their three losses from last season when they beat Mifflin 54-12 on Sept. 21.
Northland improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the league with the win over the Punchers, who beat the Vikings 48-34 last season when both teams ended up sharing the league title with Beechcroft at 5-1.
"That (victory over Granville) was big, and that was a good one to get," coach Brian Staats said. "I don't sit around and look at all those numbers, but that kept us having a chance (to make the Division II, Region 7 playoffs). The good news is that once we get into the league, with the teams that don't have any wins to this point, somebody is going to win (when they play each other). There's some wins to be had."
Northland's next three opponents are Whetstone (Friday, Sept. 28), Linden-McKinley (Oct. 5) and Dayton Ponitz (Oct. 12). The Braves beat the Panthers 36-0 on Sept. 21 to improve to 1-4, while the Panthers and Ponitz are 0-5.
Northland, which opened with losses to Zeeland (Michigan) West (28-27 on Aug. 24) and Whitehall (31-28 on Aug. 31), beat a Granville team that competes in Division III, Region 11 and made the playoffs last season. The Blue Aces, who beat the Vikings 44-26 last season, were 4-1 after beating Utica 40-0 on Sept. 21 and have three other teams with losing records remaining on their schedule in Northridge (Oct. 5), Lakewood (Oct. 12) and Watkins Memorial (Oct. 26).
Northland has beaten Whetstone each of the past two seasons and in seven of the past eight meetings.
The Vikings have four primary playmakers on offense in quarterback Kalil Branham, running back John Branham Jr. and wide receivers Jesse Prewitt III and Mark Lee.
Staats also has been pleased with the growth of an offensive line that includes Alfie Banks, Jordan McCall and Josiah Ellis.
"If we can worry about ourselves and do things the right way as opposed to what someone else might be doing, we've got to make sure we're doing it right," Staats said.
Beechcroft showing progress
On Sept. 21, the Beechcroft football team beat East for the 16th consecutive season, edging the Tigers 15-12.
The Cougars are 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the City-North with their other win over Ponitz 27-10 on Aug. 24. Beechcroft lost to Mifflin 12-7 on Sept. 14 in its league opener.
"Our kids are not football savvy," coach Charles Gibson said. "There are just certain things you do if you were a seasoned veteran and things you wouldn't do. We've got 15 seniors, but only three of them actually played (before this season). Our football knowledge is still young and people don't understand that."
According to Gibson, the Cougars' defense has been led by linebackers Elijah Hairston and Alhaji Sidibe as well as Davon Wooden, who had three interceptions through four games in the secondary.
Maurice Hale, a former Beechcroft standout who had been working with the team's quarterbacks, recently was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Junior DeShannon Butler is the starting quarterback for the Cougars, who travel to Welcome Stadium in Dayton on Friday, Sept. 28, to face Dayton Meadowdale.
"The key is if we play to our level, we can do damage," Gibson said.
"Against Mifflin, we let them hang around. I'm hoping we can get on the track."
Devils, Warriors to clash in City-South
The matchup between the Marion-Franklin and host Eastmoor Academy football teams on Friday, Sept. 28, should have a major impact on the City-South race as well as provide significant computer points for the winner.
Marion-Franklin improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league with a 47-0 win over West on Sept. 21. That same night, Eastmoor beat Walnut Ridge 26-20 to improve to 4-1 and 2-0.
Last season, the Red Devils beat the Warriors 42-21 on their way to a 7-0 start that helped them make the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.
Eastmoor is looking to reach the postseason for the second time in three seasons. The Warriors qualified for the Region 11 playoffs in 2016 but fell one spot shy of a playoff berth last season when they finished 6-4.
Eastmoor has won eight of its last nine games dating to last season when they won their final four contests.
The Warriors have one of central Ohio's best running backs in Savon Edwards, who had rushed for more than 500 yards and 10 touchdowns through four games.
Quarterback Marquise Las-ter had thrown for nearly 700 yards through four games.
Through four games for Marion-Franklin, quarterback Ke'Zion Brown was 48-for-80 passing for 607 yards and seven touchdowns, Dorian Holloway had rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown and Yovonne Roberts had 12 receptions for 200 yards and four touchdowns.