Westerville North High School football coach Bryan Johnson watched film of this week's opponent, Olentangy, and had some flashbacks to his time earlier this decade as offensive coordinator at Maple Heights.
Those teams faced Braves coach Mark Solis when he coached at Lorain, and what Johnson saw as he prepared his Warriors for their Friday, Oct. 19, visit to Olentangy largely looked like what he remembered.
"I'm not even sure he'd know we coached against each other since I was an assistant," Johnson said. "He does a ton of things on offense. They're effective in the pass game and they can establish the run, too. Defensively, they do a lot you have to worry about."
At 3-5 overall and 2-1 in the league, the Braves likely need to win out to make the playoffs in Division II, Region 8. Olentangy was projected to be 12th in this week's computer ratings, four spots shy of a postseason berth.
North also is 3-5 overall but 0-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Warriors lost their third consecutive game Oct. 12, falling to Westerville South 23-13. Running back Rondale Smith rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and quarterback Auri Dover threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Mason Plaxico in the second quarter.
Smith needs 19 yards to pass 1,000 for the season. He has 981 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 195 carries.
That same night, Olentangy lost 21-14 at Olentangy Liberty to fall out of a first-place tie with the Patriots in the OCC-Buckeye. The Braves outgained the Patriots 355-317 in total yards but were hurt by three interceptions, two thrown by starting quarterback Connor Haag and the other thrown by Trent Maddox.
Liberty scored all of its points in the second quarter before Olentangy rallied in the fourth. Haag threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ian Drummond and scored on a 3-yard run with less than six minutes left, but the Patriots were able to run out the clock.
Haag has completed 124 of 186 passes for 1,356 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Caden Kaiser leads all Olentangy receivers with 36 catches for 569 yards and five touchdowns, and Zach Shiblaq has rushed for 788 yards and seven touchdowns on 130 carries.
Olentangy's losses have come by an average of 7.6 points.
"It's been frustrating all year; just little things. We beat ourselves again (against Liberty). We're a good football team," Solis said. "We have two games left. We have areas where we can get better. All we can do is improve and get ready for Westerville North."