Halfway through the regular season, Upper Arlington football coach Jeremey Scally is seeing what he considers a few especially important developments.
"We're building versatility," Scally said. "We were good defensively against the run (in a 31-21 win at Lancaster on Sept. 27). It's a matter of taking what the opponent gives you and responding. We're getting a little better every day, and that's exactly what you want to see. That's what you have to see."
The Golden Bears, who are 2-3, hope to win consecutive games for the first time this season when they visit Westland on Friday, Oct. 4, in the OCC-Central Division opener for both teams.
UA thrived on balance against Lancaster, as quarterback Jake Leve threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sam Cannon in the second quarter and later scored on a 5-yard run, running back Lucas Arce scored on a 28-yard run and defensive back Liam Keethler sealed the win with an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left.
Leve completed six of eight passes for 191 yards. Cannon had just two catches for 109 yards.
"If there's one unit that really stood out, it was our defensive line," Scally said. "Lancaster runs a tough (wing-T) offense to emulate. I'm very proud of their growth and how physically they played. They're trusting in what they're doing. We just have to stay the course."
The Bears will face a Cougars team that fell to 1-4 with a 52-0 loss at Olentangy Orange on Sept. 27.
UA is 26-1 all-time against Westland and has not lost to the Cougars since 1990. The Bears have outscored Westland 569-66 in their past 11 meetings.
"Coach (Rick) Rios does such a great job to the point that I think he's one of the unsung heroes in (the OCC-Central)," Scally said. "They're so much more fundamentally sound than they've been even though they've struggled and that's a testament to him. He has a plan and he's sticking with it.
"They like to be balanced on offense. I like their quarterback (Buddy Workman) and their receivers. They'll show you some different formations. You'd better be lined up right or they will make you pay for it. They have some different looks defensively, but they'll come at you as fast as they can."