Since Jay Sharrett became Pickerington Central's football coach in 2003, all but one of the six times his team has faced Hilliard Davidson have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

What might be just as important in the history between the programs is that five of those contests took place in the playoffs.

In other words, a matchup between the Tigers and Wildcats usually has measurable importance on the line, and this year's meeting Friday, Sept. 27, at Central falls in line with that history.

Last season, the Tigers beat the Wildcats 17-14 in overtime in the regular season and 20-13 in the Division I, Region 3 final.

Davidson coach Brian White, who is in his 21st season, also lost to the Tigers 25-21 in a 2000 playoff game before his team split four postseason meetings with Central from 2008-11.

"You know what you're getting into when you play Hilliard Davidson," Sharrett said. "We played them twice last year and the first one wasn't decided until OT. The other wasn't decided until the fourth quarter. You know it'll be a great ballgame."

Both teams are 3-1 and coming off a loss. Central was edged by Groveport 19-14 on Sept. 20 and Davidson fell to Olentangy Liberty 22-10 that same night.

Groveport and Liberty both are 4-0.

The Wildcats now have split eight matchups with the Patriots, while the Tigers had a 28-game winning streak over Groveport snapped.

"Obviously, we'd love to be sitting at 4-0, but ... we have had an unusual number of significant injuries so far this season," White said. "We're certainly going to need Central to make some uncharacteristic mistakes that they usually do not make and we're going to have to do a better job of taking care of the football and make less mental errors than we've made to this point in the season to be able to compete Friday night. Their loss to Groveport certainly should not be taken as a sign of anything other than that Groveport is much improved, not that Central is down in any way."

The Wildcats rushed for 211 yards against Liberty, with senior Kristopher Thornton carrying the ball 19 times for 104 yards and sophomore Jonathan Weir having 17 carries for 81 yards and one score behind an offensive line led by seniors Nick Sands and Cameron Curry.

Defensively, an injury to lineman Bobby Smith has cut into Davidson's depth, but senior strong safety Nick Dymek has been a bright spot, according to White.

"Unfortunately for us, Pick Central looks like the same team we saw in the regional finals last season and we certainly aren't where we'd like to be yet," White said. "If we can get healthier as the season progresses, we'd like to think that we can be a better team than we are at present."

The Tigers faced Groveport without one of their top running backs, junior Sirron Smith, who was out with an injury.

Junior running back Nick Mosley has rushed for 485 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, but was limited to 39 yards and one score on 14 carries by the Cruisers, while senior quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw completed seven of 16 passes for 89 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Junior wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. has 16 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but was held to two receptions for 26 yards by Groveport. Junior wide receiver Max Lomonico had a 35-yard touchdown reception.

"We ran into a tough Groveport team that had great momentum coming into that game and I felt like at one time the game was going our way," Sharrett said. "To their credit, they mustered the right momentum. Each game we play, we're going to get that team's best effort, and that's not going to be any different this week against Davidson."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek