As the clock hit zero at Reynoldsburg High School on Oct. 19, fans swarmed the field and players celebrated as if they had just won the state championship.
It was a similar sight to when the Raiders defeated Pickerington North on Sept. 28, probably even a little bigger.
To revive the rivalry against Pickerington Central seemed to mean the world to Reynoldsburg, a program that not that long ago was more known for having its players transfer to one of the Pickerington schools than for big victories.
It’s been that kind of season for the Raiders, who find themselves at 8-1 and battling for an OCC-Ohio Division title, and with a home playoff game unofficially wrapped up in Division I, Region 2.
Here are five things we learned in Week 9:
1. Reynoldsburg has emerged as a central Ohio power because of its combination of physical play and play-making ability.
Sometimes the offensive numbers aren’t always stellar for Reynoldsburg, but the Raiders have found a winning formula by making big plays at key moments.
In their 24-21 victory over Central on Oct. 19, Reynoldsburg had a blocked punt and a fumble recovery to set up two scores, and two of the three passes it completed went for touchdowns.
The Raiders matched the Tigers with their toughness, which is not an easy thing to do considering Central still looks like a Division I, Region 3 title contender.
2. Olentangy Orange continued its turnaround with a rare win over Olentangy Liberty.
The Patriots had won the last seven times they had played Orange, but they were held to just 82 yards of offense as the Pioneers won 17-3 on Oct. 19.
It snapped a 13-game OCC-Buckeye winning streak for Liberty, although Orange and Liberty will share the title if both win their regular-season finales.
And this just in, the Pioneers’ Zach Harrison is a difference-maker. The biggest remaining national prize from the 2019 recruiting class had four receptions for 134 yards and four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
3. Walnut Ridge beat Marion-Franklin in a de facto playoff game.
This could be the best team Walnut Ridge has had in coach Byron Mattox’s 13 seasons, so it would be a shame if the Scots can’t squeeze their way into the Division II, Region 7 postseason.
The Scots have continued to do their part, improving to 8-1 with a 35-28 victory over Marion-Franklin on Oct. 19 as Qian Magwood caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Murphy with 44 seconds remaining. While Walnut Ridge’s postseason hopes remain alive, the Red Devils likely are out in Division III, Region 11.
4. Hilliard Darby might be central Ohio’s most underrated team.
The Panthers have won five in a row, including holding off a hungry Delaware team 31-28 on Oct. 19 to stay in the hunt for a Region 3 playoff berth.
Rarely fancy, Darby attempted just one pass, but it went for a 35-yard touchdown from Jack Stultz to Evan Grose late in the fourth quarter to help hold off a late rally.
Delaware is 6-3 and now must beat Hilliard Bradley, which is 8-1, to have a shot at the Region 2 playoffs.
5. Lancaster’s run continued with another big victory.
Are you a believer in the Golden Gales yet?
The evidence continues to grow that Lancaster could be as dangerous as they come in Region 3 after it won its sixth consecutive game Oct. 19.
The Golden Gales’ 35-21 victory over Pickerington North gave them a share of the OCC-Ohio title and a sweep of the Pickerington schools, although they still need to beat Reynoldsburg on Oct. 25 to ensure a postseason berth.