With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, many central Ohio high school football teams are vying for league championships and jockeying for playoff positioning.
All of the league title races in the OCC and City League have yet to be decided, which sets things up for a series of exciting moments, beginning with the OCC-Buckeye Division matchup Thursday, Oct. 18, between Westerville Central and host Westerville South.
The Warhawks' playoff hopes in Division I, Region 2 are on the line.
Here are five things we expect heading into Week 9:
1. The OCC-Ohio continues to provide intriguing matchups week after week, and Week 9 will be no exception.
Pickerington Central beat Pickerington North 16-7 on Oct. 12 in an OCC-Ohio contest to earn community bragging rights, and both teams have important league matchups Friday, Oct. 19.
The Tigers visit Reynoldsburg in a matchup of 7-1 teams, while the Panthers play host to Lancaster in a matchup of 5-3 teams.
The Raiders haven't beaten Central since 2001 when Pickerington had just one high school, but this looks like the best team Reynoldsburg has had since Buddy White took over as coach in 2011.
Both the Panthers and Golden Gales need to keep winning to make the Division I, Region 3 playoffs. The three teams North has lost to are a combined 21-3 and the three teams Lancaster has lost to are a combined 18-6.
2. Hilliard Darby visits Delaware on Oct. 19 in an OCC-Cardinal contest that is one of the week's most important matchups.
It might not have been circled at the beginning of the season as a game to watch, but the resurgence of Delaware under new coach Scott Wetzel has turned this into a spotlight game.
Both Darby and Delaware are 6-2, but none of the teams that the Pacers have beaten has a winning record, so a win over the Panthers would provide a huge boost to their Region 2 playoff hopes.
The Panthers were projected to be 11th in Region 3 even though they have a quality win over Lancaster among their victories. Winning out might be their only way to make the postseason.
3. The contest between Olentangy Orange and host Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 19 will have significant league-title and playoff implications.
Liberty is riding a four-game winning streak and is 3-0 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing three of its first four games. It also can make the Region 2 playoffs if it wins out, but that won't be easy.
Orange, like the Patriots, is 5-3 overall and has won four of its last five games. The Pioneers are 2-1 in the league, with their loss coming against Olentangy, 35-34 in overtime Oct. 5.
Orange was projected to be eighth in Region 2 this week and will need to win out and get help to make the postseason.
4. The City-South game between host Walnut Ridge and Marion-Franklin on Oct. 19 will have huge playoff implications.
Although the Scots are 7-1 overall and the Red Devils are 6-2, the loser of their matchup could end up on the outside of the playoffs.
Marion-Franklin, which is 4-1 in the league, was projected to be 12th in Division III, Region 11 this week. In Week 10, the Red Devils will face Columbus South, which is 6-2, so there are playoff points available.
Walnut Ridge, which also is 4-1 in the league, was projected to be 11th in Division II, Region 7 and likely will need to beat the Red Devils, as well as Independence in Week 10, to have a chance at making the postseason.
5. As was the case a year ago, DeSales appears to be in a must-win situation heading into Week 9.
Last fall, the Stallions lost to Hartley in Week 8 and Cincinnati Winton Woods in Week 9 and ended up finishing 6-4 to fall two spots shy of a playoff berth in Region 11.
DeSales is coming off a 21-14 loss to Hartley on Oct. 12 and is 5-3 as it prepares to play Oct. 19 at Winton Woods, which was the Division II state runner-up last season and is 7-1 this fall.
The Stallions have wins over two Division I programs, including Lancaster, but the Gales are the only team they've beaten with a winning record.