It’s a week of showdowns as the non-league portion of the high school football schedule enters its final two weeks for most teams and league play begins in the City League, MSL-Ohio Division and OCC-Cardinal.
Fifteen area teams are undefeated, down by two from last week. That number is guaranteed to drop by at least two more Friday, Sept. 20, given that two matchups of 3-0 teams are on tap as Olentangy Liberty travels to Hilliard Davidson and Pickerington Central visits Groveport.
Down the road, those matchups could play a huge role in how Division I, Region 3 shakes out. All four teams are in that region.
Showdowns are not limited to unbeaten teams, however.
Here are five things we expect heading into Week 4:
1. Groveport has an opportunity to earn one of the program’s biggest victories.
The Cruisers continue to put their 0-10 record of two years ago further into the past with every victory, the latest of which was a 41-14 rout of host Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 13. This week, Groveport plays host to a Central team that owns a 28-game winning streak in a series that dates to 1981 and, of course, won the Division I state championship two years ago and has been to three consecutive state semifinals.
Two of the Cruisers’ first three wins have come against teams that remain winless. After facing Central, they play at Liberty, which won Region 2 a year ago.
Groveport hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007.
2. Westerville Central will face its stiffest challenge yet against Pickerington North.
The Warhawks are off to a 3-0 start for the second consecutive year, and the memories of why they didn’t go 4-0 last season must remain fresh.
North routed the Warhawks 52-7, a score that turned heads. Central had defeated two teams that went on to earn double-digit wins in eventual Division III, Region 11 champion Eastmoor Academy (12-2) and Whitehall (10-2), which advanced to a Division II, Region 7 semifinal.
This season, the Warhawks have outscored their first three opponents – Grove City, Northland and Whitehall – 195-13.
North beat Olentangy Orange 38-17 on Sept. 13 to earn its first win. The Panthers are beginning a string of three consecutive games against teams that currently are 3-0.
3. Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington would love to start league play by beating the other.
The so-called “Wo-Town Showdown” has been dominated by Kilbourne, which has won nine of the 11 all-time meetings since the OCC relaxed its stance on intradistrict competition more than a decade ago.
This year’s game at Thomas represents a chance for the Cardinals, who are 1-2, to accomplish a first: beating Kilbourne twice in a row. The Cardinals defeated the Wolves 25-20 last year after not having won in the series since 2011.
For Kilbourne, it’s a chance to right the ship after a 0-3 start that has seen the Wolves score just 26 points and amass fewer than 200 yards of offense in each of the past two games.
4. Top to bottom, the OCC-Cardinal might have the most parity in central Ohio.
While the CCL and the OCC-Buckeye both have three undefeated teams, the OCC-Cardinal is shaping up to be an entertaining race.
Delaware, Dublin Jerome and Hilliard Darby all are 2-1, Dublin Scioto, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas are 1-2 and Hilliard Bradley and Kilbourne both are 0-3. This week in league openers, Bradley visits Darby and Jerome plays at Scioto.
As in Worthington and elsewhere, crosstown games tend to carry an extra layer of intrigue that means anything is fair game.
5. Walnut Ridge’s visit to Eastmoor could carry a lot of long-term weight.
The Scots and Warriors not only have City-South championship ramifications and neighborhood bragging rights at stake, but both teams also have a chance to earn precious computer points.
Walnut Ridge is 3-0 and Eastmoor is 1-2 after losses to two 3-0 teams in Granville and St. Charles.
An issue for both teams is that much of the City-South is struggling early on, with three others at 1-2 and two at 0-3.
Columbus South, like Walnut Ridge, enters league play at 3-0.