There haven’t been many Friday nights when the results have been as fascinating as what took place in central Ohio high school football Sept. 20.
There were groundbreaking wins, weather delays and some postponements, along with matchups in multiple divisions where state-ranked teams lost.
Things are starting to take shape in the numerous OHSAA playoff regions involving area programs, and in many cases, the teams that are near the top weren’t necessarily expected to be there when the season began.
Here are five things we learned in Week 4:
1. Groveport put together a complete performance while ending a long losing streak.
Pickerington Central has caused so much misery to area programs over the years, possibly the most to the Cruisers considering the teams have played every season since 1981. Groveport hadn’t beaten the Tigers since 1990 before doing so 19-14 on Sept. 20.
The Cruisers showed early that they could hang with the state’s third-ranked team in Division I by scoring first and then didn’t back down after Central took a 14-7 lead.
A blocked punt and an interception seemed to fuel Groveport’s confidence, and the Cruisers’ running game did enough pounding to score the game-winning touchdown and end a 28-game skid against the Tigers.
2. Columbus South, Watterson and Westerville South are among the area’s biggest surprises.
Among central Ohio’s 4-0 teams, this trio might be the most eye-opening.
It’s true that Columbus South hasn’t beaten a non-City League program, but for the Bulldogs to be 4-0 shows that last year’s 6-4 mark, which included winning six of their first seven, was no fluke.
Watterson, which just two seasons ago went 2-8, has been picking up steam since winning its final three games of last season. On Sept. 20, it won its second consecutive game that stretched late into the night because of bad weather when it beat Dayton Carroll 41-28.
While the Eagles are 4-0 for the first time since 2007, Westerville South hasn’t been 4-0 this late since 2012 when it went 8-3 and made the playoffs.
The Wildcats defeated Upper Arlington 28-21 to set up a matchup of unbeaten teams Sept. 27 against Reynoldsburg.
3. DeSales got one of its biggest regular-season wins in years.
With a 35-31 victory over Kettering Alter, the Stallions are 3-1 and setting themselves up to get back to the postseason after not making it the last two years.
The Knights, who were the Division III state runners-up last season and were second in last week’s state poll, couldn’t hold off a DeSales rushing attack featuring Jaylen Ball and Quintell Quinn. Ball scored the winning touchdown with 54 seconds to go.
Alter, which has made 18 consecutive playoff appearances, figures to provide big playoff points the rest of the season for the Stallions as they look to make the postseason in Division II, Region 8.
4. Several teams expected to be playoff contenders have continued to struggle.
Not many teams have played schedules as difficult as Hilliard Bradley and Gahanna, but the fact remains that both are 0-4 after making the playoffs last year.
Pickerington North is another Division I program that had high hopes entering the season, but after a 41-6 loss to Westerville Central is just 1-3.
In Division II, Whitehall had one of its greatest seasons last fall but is off to a 1-3 start.
5. Olentangy Berlin earned its first league victory.
Another feel-good story that took place Sept. 20 happened at Berlin, where the Bears scored 22 points in the final quarter to rally for a 32-21 victory over Delaware.
It marked the first OCC-Cardinal Division victory for Berlin, a second-year program that improved to 2-2 after going 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the league last season.
A 36-yard touchdown run by Jacob Moeller gave Berlin a 25-21 lead and a 40-yard interception return by Justin Rader a short time later put the finishing touches on the comeback.