With his team's Week 8 game against Grove City being played on a Thursday, Reynoldsburg football coach Buddy White had the next night free to scout future opponents.

The Raiders' next foe was Pickerington Central, but White instead went to Gahanna to watch the Lions face Lancaster, which his team will play Friday, Nov. 1, at home in its regular-season finale.

"(The Central game was) big for us, but for our playoff lives, it's the Lancaster game," White said.

Reynoldsburg lost to Central 40-14 on Oct. 25 but remains one of 11 teams still in contention to make the Division I, Region 3 playoffs. The Raiders are 6-3 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Ohio Division following a 5-0 start.

Lancaster fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the league with a 42-14 loss to Pickerington North on Oct. 25.

After snapping a 16-game losing streak to Central last season, Reynoldsburg fell behind 19-6 by halftime and gave up 423 yards to the Tigers while being held to 25 yards rushing.

Reynoldsburg and Lancaster have had some important matchups in recent years, including in 2015 when the Raiders won a three-overtime thriller 49-42 on their way to their first playoff berth since 2001.

Lancaster beat the Raiders 42-27 in 2016 to earn the No. 8 seed for the Region 3 playoffs, but Reynoldsburg kept the Golden Gales out of the Region 3 playoffs last year when it won 28-7 to forge a share of the OCC-Ohio title at 4-1.

The Raiders should have their full receiving corps when they play the Gales after Shon Strickland returned from an ankle injury against Central and had six catches for 79 yards. He has 37 receptions for 667 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

Another top receiver has been James Dean, who has 37 receptions for 440 yards and five touchdowns, while MarcAnthony Gray has been the top running back with 557 yards on 97 carries. Gray had two catches for 51 yards and one touchdown against Central.

Although Courtland Bullard hasn't been as big of a part of the offense as expected when the season started, he has led a secondary that has been one of the team's strengths. Bullard and Cocy Goff both have seen time at strong safety, with Andree' Mock at free safety.

That unit will be tasked with helping to stop a run-oriented Lancaster offense that long has centered on the wing-T, with running backs George Sherrick, Max Hamilton, Brock Thomas and Sage Hill and quarterback Curtis Young all having between 200 and 400 yards rushing on the season.

"(Bullard is) a silent assassin," White said. "All he does is go out and do his job with a high level of intensity. He's much more important to our defense."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek