Take Worthington out of the names of the high schools and there are still a lot of similarities between the Thomas and Kilbourne football teams.

The Cardinals and Wolves both have struggled in the early part of the season, but they have an opportunity to get an emotional boost when they meet Friday, Sept. 20, at Thomas to open OCC-Cardinal Division play.

Kilbourne leads the all-time series 9-2, but Thomas won 25-20 last season to snap a six-game losing streak to the Wolves. The Cardinals' other win came in 2011 (21-20).

Kilbourne fell to 0-3 with a 41-14 loss to Groveport on Sept. 13 at home. The Wolves trailed 21-7 at halftime before the Cruisers' Te'ron Coleman returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

"I felt like if we could stop them (to start the second half) and then go down and score, we had a pretty good ballgame," Kilbourne coach Mike Edwards said. "That (kickoff return) put us down 28-7 and at that point it was tough to catch up.

"In those situational times, the other teams are making the big plays and our kids aren't right now. Olentangy Orange beat us (16-6 on Aug. 30) on two big plays."

Against the Cruisers, quarterback Mitchell Tomasek completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards with a touchdown and an interception, running back Terrique Gray had 39 yards rushing on nine carries and tight end Duncan Selph had three catches for 35 yards.

"We've been coming out of the gates slow," Edwards said. "Last week, we were three-and-out three straight times on offense. We've got to start the game better. We've had to wait almost a whole quarter before our offense gets going."

Thomas slipped to 1-2 with a 35-21 loss to visiting Westerville South on Sept. 13.

Starting quarterback James Gaiters sat out the second half with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Nathan Borghese, who threw for 76 yards and rushed for 86 yards on 14 carries, including a 10-yard touchdown with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left.

Gaiters' status for Week 4 was not immediately known. He was to be evaluated in the days leading up to the game against Kilbourne, coach Matt Zingery said.

"(Gaiters) had an upper shoulder injury and could have possibly went back into the game," Zingery said. "But we decided at 21-7 to hold him out for the rest of the game. Borghese plays wide receiver normally for us. He was able come into the game and do a lot of good things for us in the second half."

Also scoring against South were Sheron Phipps on a 40-yard run and James Mitchell on a 2-yard run.

"We've done a better job in the last couple of weeks, but I'd like to see us continue to improve in tackling and getting off the field on third down," Zingery said. "Offensively, we've got to find a way to establish the run game consistently. We've moved the ball well, but we've got to get more consistent in the run game."