The Dublin Jerome football team enters its regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1, at Worthington Kilbourne with plenty on the line.
The Celtics not only are looking to secure a home game for the first round of the Division I, Region 2 playoffs, but they also are seeking to win the outright OCC-Cardinal Division championship.
Jerome clinched at least a share of the league title with a 25-20 win over visiting Olentangy Berlin on Oct. 25. The Celtics are 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal, one game ahead of both Berlin and Hilliard Darby.
On Nov. 1, Berlin finishes league play at home against Thomas Worthington, while Darby visits Dublin Scioto in its league finale.
"We have to take care of business on Friday to win (the title) outright," said Jerome coach Bob Gecewich, whose team's previous league championship came in 2016 when it shared the title with Hilliard Bradley. "It's not a foregone conclusion. I hate that everyone is telling our kids they're (outright) OCC champions. Overlooking anyone is not an option for our guys.
"Right now, we're promised two more games, which is awesome, but right now, it's just two more games."
Against Berlin, Sammy Stoner caught four passes for 97 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown. He also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown and had an interception on defense.
The Celtics amassed 332 total yards against Berlin. Quarterback Ryan Miller was 15-for-21 passing for 210 yards with three touchdowns and ran for 60 yards on 13 carries, while Seth Martin added six catches for 53 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, and Carter Barco caught a 24-yard touchdown pass.
"We have to get better," Gecewich said. "There were a lot of mistakes and hats off to Berlin. They took away our run game, but Ryan played well. Sammy, Carter Barco stepped up. We've had kids step up and do their jobs, and when kids do that, it's pretty awesome. You have a chance to win."
Kilbourne fell to 1-8 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 49-7 loss at Bradley on Oct. 24.
First-year Wolves coach Mike Edwards would like to see his team play the spoiler role against the Celtics.
"I talked to the seniors about their senior year and their last game, what's your motivation," Edwards said. "They said they want to prepare just like we always prepare. We want to show up to beat Jerome. We don't want a shorter practice. We don't want to make it easy. We don't want to do anything different. We want to stick to the grind."
Kilbourne managed just 129 total yards against Bradley.
"I was pleased with the progression, especially in the first six or seven games," Edwards said. "We've taken some steps backwards the last two weeks. I don't think it was because of effort. For our kids to be 1-8, it's a tough place to be."
Among the Wolves' key players is quarterback Mitchell Tomasek.
"Kilbourne's quarterback has thrown for a lot of yards this year," Gecewich said. "He's a strong competitor who can hurt you on the ground and in the air."