With one game remaining in the football regular season, neither Westerville Central nor host Olentangy can afford to lose Friday, Nov. 1.
After a 5-0 start, the Warhawks have lost three of their last four games but remain in the Division I, Region 3 playoff chase. Central was projected to be 10th this week, but only the top eight teams qualify.
"For both us and Olentangy, it's a situation where we need to win," said Central coach Brent Morrison, whose team is 6-3 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division after a 23-20 overtime loss to Westerville South on Oct. 25. "Essentially, the playoffs are starting (in) Week 10 for us. Every week from this point on, you either win or you're done."
Olentangy snapped a two-game losing streak with a 44-14 win at Westerville North on Oct. 25, improving to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Braves were projected to be sixth in Division II, Region 7 this week.
"Like I told the kids, from here on out we have playoff games," Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. "This week is a playoff game (against a) quality opponent. They're 6-3. I'm sure they would like to finish out the season on a high note. They still have a chance to get into the playoffs, so obviously they have a lot to play for. We win and we're guaranteed in the playoffs."
The Braves have won the last three meetings in the series, which they lead 6-3.
Central trailed South 14-3 in the first quarter before rallying for a 20-14 lead in the third on Judah Holtzclaw's 27-yard touchdown pass to Myles Williamson and Holtzclaw's 14-yard scoring run.
South, however, pulled even on Michael Mansaray's 3-yard scoring run in the fourth and won the game on Matthew Bame's 33-yard field goal in overtime.
"Westerville Central is a different beast," Solis said. "They're very talented. They're 6-3, but they could easily be undefeated. ... They're really big on the offensive line, so that presents some problems for you. Defensively, they fly around. They blitz from all over the place (and) different angles. They're really good, so we have our hands full this week."
Trent Maddox led Olentangy against North, completing 17 of 23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Jace Middleton had five catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, and Malik Wade ran for 49 yards and two scores on 15 carries.
"Olentangy, offensively, always gives you a ton of formations (with) motion, shifts (and) a bunch of different looks," Morrison said. "They have a really intermediate passing game. They always do a really good job on offense. Defensively, they play very hard (with) a four-man front, which oddly we haven't seen a four-man front in a while."