Although this will be his first game in the rivalry, Westerville North High School football coach Bryan Johnson understands the importance of his team's contest Friday, Oct. 5, at Westerville Central.

The Warriors won the first meeting 21-17 in 2008, but the Warhawks have won all nine games since by an average margin of just over 26 points.

The closest outcome came last season when Central won 21-12.

"The kids talk about ruling the 'Ville (and) that's one of our goals," Johnson said. "The seniors and the overall team want to get that win against a Westerville team. The kids are playing OK football right now, but they want to change the ways around here."

Brent Morrison is in his first season as Central's head coach but is more than familiar with the rivalry, having joined the coaching staff as an assistant in 2005.

"Any time you play a school in Westerville there's going to be an extra level of excitement with it," Morrison said. "I've been around since we got our first win against (North and Westerville South). I've been a part of all of them, so it will be another chapter in the story of the Westerville rivalry."

North and Central both are 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division after losing league openers Sept. 28. North lost to visiting Olentangy Orange 54-14, while Central fell at Olentangy Liberty 16-14.

The Warhawks are hoping to end a three-game losing streak in which the last two losses came by a combined three points. They lost to Gahanna 14-13 on Sept. 21.

"It would be great considering our previous two games we've lost by a total of a field goal," Morrison said. "We're basically one play away from winning both of those games. Our kids know that ... and they know that we can play with anyone. And we've played to the last whistle in every game, so I don't see this one being any different."

After starting 2-0, North has dropped three of its last four games.

The Warriors trailed Orange 40-0 in the third quarter before Rondale Smith scored on a 62-yard run. He added a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth and finished with 181 yards on 23 carries.

North was outgained 444-238.

For the season, Smith has rushed for 744 yards and 10 touchdowns on 147 carries.

"Coach Johnson has definitely done some good things there," Morrison said. "They play more aggressive than we've seen in years past and they're a little bit more multidimensional on offense, so it poses some different challenges than in years past."

Defensive back Micah Tillman has three interceptions for North.

Central outgained Liberty 342-292 as LaBronz Davis II completed 13 of 26 passes for 257 yards with two touchdowns. His 33-yard touchdown to Colton Irwin tied the game at 7 in the third quarter, and Davis capped the scoring with a 75-yard pass to Kylin Byrd in the fourth.

"They're big up front," Johnson said. "Their quarterback is really good. They have good, skilled players. It seems like they're in every game. They've lost a couple of close ones against some really good teams. It's going to be a battle up front and we have to try and control the quarterback."