Two games do not dictate what will happen in the next eight, but it’s a little easier to see trends one-fifth of the way through the high school football regular season.
Seventeen area teams are off to 2-0 starts. Seven others enter Week 3 seeking their first victory.
A few intra-city rivalries highlight Week 3, including one between two 2-0 teams in Dublin Coffman playing host to Dublin Jerome and another with 2-0 Hilliard Davidson visiting 0-2 Hilliard Bradley.
It almost seems too soon for non-league play to be coming to an end, but it does for City League-South Division and OCC-Cardinal teams – including Jerome – this week. Everyone else has at least one or two more non-league games to play.
Here are five things we expect heading into Week 3:
1. Jerome has an opportunity to solidify a great start when it visits Coffman on Friday, Sept. 13.
The Celtics, who have outscored their first two opponents 79-17, have a chance to earn one of the biggest wins in the program’s 15-year history when they travel about four miles southeast to visit the Shamrocks, who have started the season with wins over Clayton Northmont (17-7 on Aug. 30) and Gahanna (45-20 on Sept. 6).
Jerome averaged 322 yards of offense in its first two games and rushed for 234 and 235 yards against Central Crossing and DeSales, respectively. The Celtics defeated the Comets 34-3 and beat the Stallions 45-14.
Coffman leads the all-time series 3-0, including a 45-14 win last year in which it outscored the Celtics 31-0 in the second half.
2. St. Charles can continue one of the area’s feel-good stories to start the season.
Bidding for its first 3-0 start in nine years, St. Charles plays host to former CCL rival Ready on Sept. 13.
The Cardinals seem to be buying in under second-year coach Deke Hocker in a start that has seen them hold off a Dublin Scioto rally to win 28-21 in Week 1 and then come up with big defensive plays down the stretch – including two safeties and a fumble recovery that led to Luke Eversole’s 7-yard game-winning touchdown run with 1 minute, 12 seconds left – to edge Eastmoor Academy 19-16 in their home opener Sept. 6.
A three-game winning streak would be the Cardinals’ longest since 2013, when they won six in a row to end the regular season and earn their most recent playoff appearance.
3. Pickerington Central comes home to face an intriguing opponent Sept. 13.
After trips to Milton, Georgia, and Columbus, Indiana, to start the season, the 2-0 Tigers finally will enjoy the comforts of home this week when they play host to Naperville (Illinois) Central.
The Redhawks come in 0-2 but with some talent. Naperville Central is led by quarterback Sam Jackson, a Minnesota commit who was 25-for-39 passing for 275 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 loss to Frankfort (Illinois) Lincoln-Way East on Sept. 6.
The Redhawks could get creative with Jackson, who naturally is a quarterback but played wide receiver last season and caught 49 passes for 800 yards and 14 touchdowns. They have scored just 16 points through two games with only one offensive touchdown.
4. Gahanna will visit Hartley in an intriguing matchup between two East Side teams.
The Hawks will play host to the Lions on Sept. 13 in the teams’ first matchup since 1974.
Division III power Hartley comes in at 2-0, including a 44-6 win at Wheelersburg on Sept. 6, and Division I Gahanna is 0-2, with losses to perennial powers Cincinnati Elder (41-6 on Aug. 30) and Coffman.
Not only are the Hawks scheduling up and playing their first Division I opponent since Central Crossing in 2017, but Gahanna is part of Hartley’s attendance territory. Surely, some players know each other and are particularly excited for something of a neighborhood rivalry that the Lions lead 4-2.
5. Reynoldsburg wide receiver Shon Strickland probably will add to his highlight reel.
The Raiders’ 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver, a Bowling Green commit, is making a habit of leaping over outmanned defensive backs for impressive catches.
His numbers – seven catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns – might not be eye-popping, but that’s largely because Reynoldsburg quarterbacks Dijon Jennings and Michael Whatley have several talented targets.
Strickland tightroped the back line of the end zone for a touchdown in Week 1 against Upper Arlington and pulled off the same feat in a 41-7 rout of Licking Heights on Sept. 6. The Raiders visit Marion-Franklin on Sept. 13.