While the Canal Winchester football team hopes it is hitting its stride after three games, the Indians' next opponent is off to a winless start and still trying to establish an identity.

At 3-0 and winners of 12 consecutive games, the Indians will visit Westerville North on Friday, Sept. 20. The Warriors are 0-3 and trying to break an eight-game losing streak dating to last season.

After two victories Canal Winchester coach Josh Stratton considered lackluster to an extent, the Indians bolted to a 56-0 lead Sept. 13 against previously undefeated Teays Valley and routed the Vikings 66-7.

That same night, North's defense kept the Warriors in their home opener against Mansfield Senior, but the offense gained just 82 total yards in a 14-0 loss.

"Our defense did pretty well. I really liked our tackling. We flew to the ball well, but we didn't get much help from the offense," North coach Bryan Johnson said. "We'll have to put it together this week. (Canal Winchester's) offensive and defensive lines are technically sound, their tailback (Stephan Byrd) is a hoss and they have a three-year starter at quarterback (Jack Beeler). Stratton really has them rolling over there."

Byrd, a sophomore, did all of his damage in the first half against Teays Valley. He had 13 carries for 90 yards and four touchdowns and one catch for 30 yards and another score.

The Indians scored 60 points in a game for the first time this century and their defense forced five fumbles, including a 5-yard return for a touchdown by Hayden Hull.

"We really practiced with a purpose (last) week. You could hear pads cracking," Stratton said. "The more we win, the more there is a target on our back. We're a target. People want to beat us. We can't relax for a moment. That's just the way it is if you want to sustain success."

Canal Winchester defeated North 38-15 last year, but the Warriors still lead the all-time series between the former OCC-Cardinal Division foes 4-2.

"(North) is 0-3, but they're probably a few plays away from being in those games or even winning," Stratton said. "They have a lot of athleticism and speed. Their quarterback (Auri Dover) is elusive. They have some big, tall, long kids we'll need to contain."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

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