The Hilliard Bradley football team is uncharted waters after losing its first three games for the first time in the program's 11-year history.
Things don't get any easier this week for the Jaguars, who visit Darby on Friday, Sept. 20, in the OCC-Cardinal Division opener for both teams.
It marks the ninth meeting between the teams, whose all-time series is tied at 4. The Panthers won the first four matchups, but Bradley has won the last four, including 16-8 last season.
The Jaguars also enter the contest on a 16-game league winning streak. Their last league loss came against Dublin Scioto, 20-6 on Sept. 20, 2016.
Panthers coach John Santagata said Bradley's record is deceptive.
"I think they are probably one of the most talented 0-3 teams around," said Santagata, whose team improved to 2-1 with a 21-7 win over Lancaster on Sept. 13. "They have a lot of talent, they are big, and they play really aggressive on defense."
Both teams have been defeated by Davidson, with the Panthers losing to the Wildcats 30-14 on Sept. 6 and the Jaguars falling 17-9 on Sept. 13.
Bradley quarterback A.J. Mirgon was 15-for-23 passing for 148 yards with one touchdown and ran for 63 yards on 17 carries against Davidson. Tayshaun Mayfield caught six passes for 66 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown, and Jack Pugh had four catches for 28 yards. Running back Evan Yee had 64 yards rushing on 14 carries.
"Their quarterback plays well and can run with the ball," Santagata said. "He's a good runner whether it's a scramble or a designed run."
The Jaguars outgained Davidson in total yards, 294 to 257, but lost the time of possession to the Wildcats by nearly 10 minutes, 28:40 to 19:20.
"We're so young, but we're getting better," Bradley coach Mike LoParo said. "You lose a couple of two-year starters like (Michigan State recruit) Chris Mayfield on the defensive line and Caleb Walker in the defensive backfield, and it's tough. We're not sure when either will be back.
"We have a lot of first-year starters, but I think we're starting to get there. They played better (against Davidson), but we have to be more consistent on offense."
The Panthers regrouped after their loss to Davidson by winning at Lancaster. The Golden Gales' only score came when they recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.
"Our defense played great, and we definitely took a step in the right direction," Santagata said. "We have to clean up special teams because something like a punt being blocked can come back to bite us down the road."
Quarterback Jack Stultz ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and was 1-for-3 passing for 16 yards, with fullback Connor Jones having the reception.
Through three games, Stultz has rushed for 297 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries, and Jones has run for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
"(Darby is) really a good option team, and they are really sound," LoParo said. "There is nothing tricky about what they do. Their fullback, Connor Jones, is as good as you are going to find, and their quarterback does a great job.
"Their defense flies around, and I like how their linebackers move to the ball. They are really solid, and they will be another tough obstacle for us."