The Hilliard Darby and Thomas Worthington football teams are in similar situations.
Both are coming into their matchup Friday, Oct. 11, at Thomas on a two-game losing streak after posting a win over a rival.
The Panthers lost to Olentangy Berlin 16-12 on Oct. 4 to fall to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
"From our standpoint, we weren't happy at all with how we played (against Berlin) and we certainly weren't happy with how we played against (Dublin) Jerome (in a 24-6 loss on Sept. 27)," Darby coach John Santagata said. "We need to improve our play in every phase of the game."
The Cardinals are coming off a 31-0 loss to Jerome on Oct. 4 that dropped them to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"I just want to see our kids continue to compete and play to their potential," Thomas coach Matt Zingery said. "We believe as a coaching staff that we're a good football team and we believe that, at times, we're not showing it. We're looking ... to play to our potential with more of a sense of urgency. If we can do that Friday night, I think we can put ourselves in a situation to be successful."
The Cardinals will face Darby's triple-option offense for the third time under Zingery. The past two meetings, the Panthers scored a combined 83 points against Thomas.
"Nobody wants to play Army or Navy on the collegiate level because (that offense) is so hard to prepare for," Zingery said. "In our level, having such limited time in practice during the week ... it's even more difficult to prepare for their offense."
The Panthers were held to 214 total yards by Berlin, including 144 yards on the ground, and had three turnovers against the Bears.
"We need to get all our backs carrying the ball and contributing," Santagata said. "We have a four-back system and we want positive yards from every one of those backs. We want even distribution and we want a receiver or two to make catches (in the passing) game. When we've been successful in the past, that's how it's worked."
The Panthers attempted a season-high 11 passes against Berlin. According to Santagata, that was by design.
Quarterback Jack Stultz completed six of those attempts for 70 yards but was intercepted three times, each of which came in the fourth quarter during Darby's comeback bid. Stultz led the Panthers on the ground with 69 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
"We went in wanting to (throw the ball)," Santagata said. "We wanted to use our passing game because we work on it a ton."
Zingery was pleased with his defense's performance against Jerome. Cam Beatty had an interception in each of the past two games and Sheron Phipps has four interceptions on the season to lead Thomas' secondary.
"Defensively, we have a lot of guys making plays," Zingery said. "There were a lot of positives (against Jerome) even though we gave up 31 (points). When your offense doesn't move the ball, (your defense) is constantly playing on a short field. It puts a lot of pressure on your defense."
Thomas was held to just 49 total yards and six first downs by the Celtics.