The Westerville North and Westerville South high school football teams enter their game Friday, Oct. 12, at North looking for a much-needed win.
North is 3-4 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, while South is 2-5 overall and 0-2 in the league. The Warriors have lost two games in a row and the Wildcats are looking to end a four-game losing streak.
"We need a win just as bad as anybody else, so I think we'll be hungry," South coach Matthew Christ said. "We want to get our first OCC-Buckeye win and hopefully get things rolling."
South has won 11 consecutive games in the series, with North's last win coming in 2005 (14-10).
"Looking at the scores of South versus North over the last decade, records don't matter," Christ said. "They're usually close contests. They've had some great games. They're going to give us everything they have, so we have to rise to the occasion as well."
South will try to bounce back from a 35-31 loss to visiting Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 5. The Wildcats led 14-0 and 28-7 in the first half before the Patriots rallied.
Sophomore Peter Pedrozzo, in his first varsity start, completed 17 of 24 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Christ said Pedrozzo would start against North.
Jason Penn had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
"I thought in terms of playing all three phases for almost four quarters, that was probably the closest we've been to playing a complete game," Christ said. "The effort is there. ... We're a handful of plays away from winning games. We have to keep playing."
Ta'Veon Falls leads the Wildcats in rushing with 490 yards and two touchdowns on 103 carries.
"They're fast and they're physical," first-year North coach Bryan Johnson said of South. "They have athletes all over the field. They're big up front. They have a couple really fast skill guys as receivers and slots, so that poses a threat to us to try to cover everybody and figure them out."
North is coming off a 48-12 loss Oct. 5 at Westerville Central, which outscored the Warriors 27-0 in the fourth quarter.
"We want to learn from our mistakes and put that one behind us and get ready for South," Johnson said.
Johnson said he saw glimpses of promise in the loss. Running back Rondale Smith accounted for 54 yards rushing on his team's 80-yard scoring drive to open the game.
"Their quarterback (Auri Dover) is an explosive little dude," Christ said. "You can tell he competes hard. He makes plays."
Johnson said his players are looking forward to the second of back-to-back games against Westerville opponents.
"The kids are excited," he said. "It is South. They've been close the last couple of years. We're playing at home, so we'll see."