Pickerington North football coach Nate Hillerich is impressed with unbeaten Dublin Coffman, but Shamrocks coach Mark Crabtree isn't ready to label his team a finished product.
Coffman is 4-0 entering its home game against the Panthers on Friday, Sept. 27.
"They are a great football team," said Hillerich, whose team is 1-3. "They are one of the best teams in the state. They don't have any weaknesses. They have great coach and explosive players at the skill positions."
The Shamrocks are coming off a 38-16 win over Olentangy on Sept. 20. They led 28-3 at halftime but were outscored 13-10 in the second half.
"It's not my job to be happy about how we are playing. It's our job as coaches is to be as critical as possible to make our players better," Crabtree said. "We're not in a position to be happy. We want to get out there, get better and find ways to get where we need to reach. We need to draw (our players) out to their potential."
Coffman junior slotback Bryon Threats scored four touchdowns against Olentangy. He rushed for 121 yards on eight carries with scores of 42, 15 and 6 yards and returned a fumbled kickoff return 82 yards for a score.
Quarterback Connor Mathews led the Shamrocks in rushing with 162 yards on 12 carries and was 4-for-12 passing for 22 yards with one interception.
"Coffman has an elusive quarterback and he can run the ball," said Hillerich, whose team is coming off a 41-6 loss to unbeaten Westerville Central on Sept. 20. "Like I said before, they really are a good football team."
Coffman and North both have played Clayton Northmont this season. The Shamrocks defeated the Thunderbolts 17-7 on Aug. 30 to open the season, while the Panthers lost 37-17 to Northmont on Sept. 6.
"The biggest thing for us is just making sure we focus on ourselves rather than focusing on (the opponent)," Hillerich said. "We have to do the little things right. We have to take care of the football. We have to limit penalties. We have to basically focus on the fundamentals and pretty much need to play a perfect game."
The Panthers are on their third quarterback since preseason camp began. Senior Gio Thomas, a move-in from Washington Court House, transferred to Lake Worth (Florida) Park Vista before the start of the season after being declared ineligible for the final five regular-season games and postseason by the OHSAA. Dom Myers started the first two games but was replaced by Ohio State recruit Jack Sawyer in Week 3 because of an ankle injury. Sawyer, a defensive end and wide receiver, helped lead North to a 38-17 win over Olentangy Orange on Sept. 13.
"We're on our third quarterback since early August, and Jack is doing a good job," Hillerich said. "We have had flashes of potential in the last couple of weeks, but if we don't take care of the football, we cannot compete against the best teams. We had three turnovers (against Central), six in the loss to Northmont and four against (Olentangy) Liberty (a 31-19 loss Aug. 30)."
Against Central, Sawyer was 10-for-27 passing for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 37 yards on 10 carries. Defensively, he had three tackles, including two sacks.
Idris Lawrence had two catches for 73 yards and Chris Scott had two receptions for 21 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown.
"Sawyer is a big-time player and Chris Scott is probably as good of a receiver as we will face this season," Crabtree said. "They have good athletes and have played a really tough schedule, too."