By the end of Friday, Nov. 1, the proverbial bubble will have burst for either the Hilliard Darby football team or host Dublin Scioto, or maybe for both teams.
Neither is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs with a win, but losing team is guaranteed to be packing up its equipment next week.
The Panthers have run off three consecutive wins, including a 24-6 victory over visiting Delaware on Oct. 25 to improve to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. They were projected to be ninth in Division I, Region 3 this week, according to joeeitel.com, and the top eight teams in each region make the playoffs.
"We need to win and then I think we need some things to happen," Darby coach John Santagata said. "I'm not sure what exactly needs to happen, but we've talked about it. I'm just going to focus on this game and if we're in, then we're in, because we can't do anything but do that."
Scioto lost to host Thomas Worthington 30-27 in double overtime Oct. 25 to fall to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the league. The Irish were projected to be 11th in Division II, Region 7.
"It's an opportunity for us to play a 10th game on our home field against a good opponent that's always a tough matchup for us with a hope and a prayer that the right things can happen for us and we can sneak in (to the playoffs)," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said.
Thomas' Owen Graham kicked a 35-yard field goal with six seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, and the Cardinals' Sheron Phipps had an interception in the second overtime to set up Graham's 29-yard game-winning field goal.
"It's been kind of our season - great games each and every week," Johnson said. "Closing games out in the fourth quarter has been something we've struggled with. The details make a huge difference. Our guys battled to the end and they need to battle to the end this week, too."
Pete Hrelec ran for 125 yards and a touchdown and Tobias Thomas rushed for two scores to lead the Irish against the Cardinals. Hrelec also had 13 tackles, including two for loss, to lead Scioto's defense.
Darby's offense did all of its damage against the Pacers on the ground, as the Panthers ran for all of their 324 total yards.
Quarterback Jack Stultz rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and Connor Jones ran 17 times for 112 yards and a score. Evan Grose added 53 yards rushing on six carries, including a 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
"I thought we executed better on offense against Delaware," Santagata said. "I didn't think we executed that well in the (Worthington) Kilbourne game (a 38-0 win on Oct. 18), but I think we cleaned it up quite a bit against Delaware and we're going to have to do the same for (Scioto)."