For the first time in program history, the Worthington Christian High School football team holds legitimate hopes of extending its season beyond Week 10 of the regular season.
The Warriors locked up their second winning season in program history Oct. 19 when they beat Fairfield Christian 48-6 to improve to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the MSL-Cardinal Division.
Unlike in 2016 when it went 6-4 and finished 18th in its region, Worthington Christian was projected to be ninth in Division VI, Region 23 - one spot shy of a playoff berth - entering its game Friday, Oct. 26, at Berne Union.
The Rockets are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the league and likely will wrap up a Division VII, Region 27 playoff berth with a win.
The Warriors lead the all-time series 3-1, but Berne Union won last year's matchup 56-21.
"It's definitely exciting for our football program," coach Jeff Hartings said. "This is what we worked hard for all offseason and all preseason, and the results have taken care of themselves. We talk about focusing on the process and what we need to do every play, every week and let the results take care of themselves."
In addition to a win over Berne Union, the Warriors likely will need a loss by Chillicothe Southeastern, Fairbanks or Grandview - which were projected to be sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in Region 23 - to advance to the playoffs.
Against Fairfield Christian, quarterback Lucas Hartings completed eight of 11 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and Michael Hartings had seven carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns, one catch for 25 yards and 5.5 tackles.
Another key weapon for Worthington Christian is wide receiver Michael King, who has 32 receptions for 507 yards and eight touchdowns to complement Michael Hartings (912 yards, 13 TDs on 111 carries) and Lucas Hartings (95-for-181 passing for 1,352 yards, 13 TDs).
Berne Union beat Zanesville Rosecrans 41-14 on Oct. 12 as running back Chaz Dickerson rushed 28 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns. He has 1,035 yards and nine touchdowns on 163 carries on the season, while quarterback Zane Mirgon has completed 81 of 123 passes for 1,034 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Wide receiver Kolt Culbertson also has been a playmaker for the Rockets with 35 catches for 470 yards and nine touchdowns.
"They're a very good football team, as their record indicates," coach Hartings said. "They like to run the ball and have got some very good physical players, but they definitely will throw the ball if they see an opportunity to do that. That's a testament to a very well-coached team."