Everything will be on the line for the Canal Winchester High School football team Friday, Oct. 26, when it plays host to Big Walnut.
A win would be the Indians' ninth in a row after a season-opening loss and would clinch the outright OCC-Capital Division championship, the team's first league title since joining the conference before the 2013-14 school year.
Despite all of that, the playoffs are anything but a sure bet even if Canal Winchester wins.
The Indians were projected to be 10th in Division II, Region 7 this week, two spots shy of a playoff berth. According to Fantastic50.net, Canal Winchester has a 42 percent of earning its first trip to the postseason since 2012 with a win and would be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss.
"We're not talking about the playoffs with the guys this week because that's out of our control," coach Josh Stratton said. "We're focusing on the fact that this is our last game at home and we want to send our seniors out the right way. We haven't won a league championship in the OCC. That's a short history, but it's a big deal."
At 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the league, Canal Winchester clinched at least share of the OCC-Capital title with a 59-13 win at Newark on Oct. 19. The Indians amassed 535 total yards against the Wildcats, 393 of which came on the ground, in their highest-scoring game of this century.
Running back Stephan Byrd rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and Blessing Johnson had 120 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Jake Francis and Tyler Toledo each added two touchdowns on the ground.
Toledo rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on five carries and had two interceptions at defensive back.
"I am a little bit surprised that I've been able to make an impact like this on both sides of the ball this year. It's what I wanted, though," said Toledo, who visited Youngstown State on Oct. 20 and also has received interest from Denison and Eastern Michigan. "Everything I do as a running back, I couldn't do without my (offensive) line. Defensively, I feel like we've been pretty good in coverage as a unit."
Big Walnut is 3-6 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Capital, having fallen out of league championship contention with consecutive losses to New Albany (41-7 on Oct. 12) and Groveport (28-19 on Oct. 19).
Sophomore quarterback Jagger Bennett completed 12 of 19 passes for 176 yards against Groveport. Running back Nathan Lawyer had touchdown runs of 8 and 2 yards and Caleb Meade kicked field goals of 31 and 36 yards.
Groveport and New Albany are tied for second in the OCC-Capital at 3-1, a tie that will be broken Oct. 26 when the Eagles visit the Cruisers.
Despite being 10th in Region 7, Canal Winchester's projected 18.8944 points this week would have it fifth in each of the other three Division II regions as well as third in both regions 2 and 4 in Division I and eighth in Division I, Region 1.
"These guys deserve to have a say in how their season ends, not have it determined by somebody else," Stratton said. "All we can do is go out and play our hardest and try to win another football game."