The Worthington Christian High School football team should feel battle tested heading into the season's second half.
With a 40-18 victory over Grove City Christian on Sept. 21, the Warriors improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MSL-Cardinal Division, but all of their losses have come against teams that are 5-0.
Among their losses was a 16-12 setback Sept. 14 to Harvest Prep, the four-time defending MSL-Cardinal champion that has won 28 consecutive league games.
The fact that Worthington Christian was competitive with a strong program like Harvest Prep -- and even led 12-0 at halftime -- has second-year coach Jeff Hartings believing that his team is close to turning the corner.
"I definitely like the culture and the work ethic. (The players) believe in themselves and they're working hard every day," Hartings said. "We have challenges with the number of players we have and a number playing both ways, so you don't get to coach them on one side the entire practice."
The Warriors continue league play Friday, Sept. 28, when they play host to Zanesville Rosecrans.
The Bishops, a Division VII, Region 27 playoff qualifier last year, are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league, with both of their losses coming against teams that are 5-0 -- Grandview (70-26 on Sept. 7) and Harvest Prep (38-0 on Sept. 21).
Rosecrans quarterback Cam Hagy has completed 25 of 54 passes for 496 yards and eight touchdowns and has rushed for two touchdowns, while Carter Dosch (107 carries for 787 yards, 10 TDs) and Austin Church (30 carries for 336 yards, 3 TDs) have been the top running backs. Wide receiver Nick Losco has 13 receptions for 271 yards and four touchdowns.
They'll face a Worthington Christian defense that held Harvest Prep to a season-low point total.
Leading the defense are linebacker Michael Hartings, who has 29.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one interception, and linebacker Braden Anderson, who has 22.5 tackles, three tackles for loss and one interception.
Defensive back Garrett Woodfin has three interceptions, including two against Grove City Christian.
Linemen Derek Holston, Luke Sharp and Jake Thompson also have been key contributors on defense.
For Rosecrans on defense, linemen Casey Biedenbach (6 tackles for loss) and Matt Applegate (37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss), strong safety Cam Hagy and linebacker Carter Dosch have led the way.
Worthington Christian's offense has been led by running back Michael Hartings, who has rushed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 62 carries and has one touchdown reception, and his brother, quarterback Lucas Hartings, who is 55-for-115 passing for 719 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions and has rushed for two scores.
Tight end Jake Thompson (14 receptions for 232 yards, 2 TDs), running back Braden Anderson and wide receiver Jonathan Heredia Aguirre also have been key contributors.
Against Grove City Christian, Anderson had 11 carries for 124 yards and Heredia Aguirre had three receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.