The Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington football teams have a lot on the line entering their Week 10 matchup Friday, Nov. 1.
The Bears will play host to Thomas looking to secure a Division II, Region 7 playoff berth in only their second season. They were projected to be ninth in the region this week by joeeitel.com and need to defeat the Cardinals for any chance of making the postseason.
The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs, with the top four teams earning first-round home games.
"People have been telling me that we're still alive, but all we can do is focus on beating Thomas Worthington," said Bears coach Mark Nori, whose team is 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. "We would like to have control of our destiny, but all we can do is go out and win and then let the chips fall where they may."
The Cardinals, who are 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the league, are seeking only their second non-losing season this century. They finished 5-5 in 2009 and their last winning season came in 1999 when they went 7-3.
"It's a big deal for these kids to be .500 because we have only done it once since they have been alive," Thomas coach Matt Zingery said. "Being .500 wasn't our goal, but it is a big deal in this town."
The Cardinals have won two consecutive games, including a 30-27 double-overtime win over Dublin Scioto on Oct. 25 in league play. Sheron Phipps rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries against the Irish and has rushed for 314 yards and four scores in two games since moving from wide receiver to running back.
"They are scary, and they seem to have found their identity," Nori said of the Cardinals. "They have mixed and matched things over the last few weeks until they found what they wanted to do."
Berlin still could earn a share of the OCC-Cardinal title, but that became more difficult after a 25-20 loss at Dublin Jerome on Oct. 25. The Bears must beat Thomas and have the Celtics lose to Worthington Kilbourne on Nov. 1 to share the title with Jerome. The Celtics are 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league, while the Wolves are 1-8 and 1-5.
Berlin quarterback Jacob Moeller was 19-for-41 passing for 238 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Jerome. Jalen Weitzel caught five passes for 84 yards and Jack Nebraska had four receptions for 55 yards.
"Berlin has been doing a good job for a team in its second year," Zingery said. "They have a quarterback who can throw and they play solid defense. They don't do a lot defensively, but they play their base and they do it well."