Among the things Worthington Christian football coach Jeff Hartings reminds his players about on a continual basis is having the "right mindset" when it comes to approaching practice, executing and even acknowledging accomplishments.
There has been more to celebrate this fall than ever before for a program that is in just its sixth season.
With a 47-13 victory over Fairfield Christian on Oct. 18, the Warriors earned at least a share of their first league championship.
They then wrapped up the outright MSL-Cardinal Division title with a 41-0 victory over Berne Union on Oct. 25, improving to 7-2 overall and finishing 4-0 in the league.
The playoffs also are in reach for the first time.
"My coach always talks about the process is the product, and he's done a great job of building up the culture," senior offensive lineman Caleb Harper said. "We moved one step closer (after the win over Fairfield Christian), but we had to get our minds back on track. Everybody has a job to keep track of."
Wins over fellow postseason contenders Fisher Catholic (31-21 on Oct. 5) and Dayton Christian (31-22 on Oct. 11) have helped the Warriors in their pursuit of a playoff spot. They were projected to be sixth in Division VI, Region 24 entering their regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1, at home against KIPP Columbus.
The Jaguars, who are an OHSAA-sanctioned team for the first time this season, lost to Galion 59-12 on Oct. 25 to fall to 2-7.
KIPP Columbus runs a spread offense featuring junior quarterback Tylond Harris, who completed 27 of 37 passes for 483 yards and six touchdowns in a 48-46 victory Oct. 18 at Norwood.
Worthington Christian has one of central Ohio's top quarterbacks in senior Lucas Hartings, who is 120-for-206 passing for 1,991 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions and has rushed 66 times for 339 yards and nine scores.
"We started the program six years ago, which is not that long ago," Lucas Hartings said. "To start out winning a league title and having a chance to make a run at the playoffs is very exciting.
"Things have started to come together. We realize to win big games we have to trust each other and everyone do their own parts."
Worthington Christian is in its third season under coach Hartings and improved from 5-5 with one of the wins coming by forfeit in his first season to going 6-4 last season with wins in five of its last six games.
The only teams the Warriors have lost to this season are Galion Northmor (42-17 on Sept. 6) and Glouster Trimble (34-6 on Sept. 27), both of which are expected to make the playoffs in Division VI.
The only points Trimble has given up all season were to the Warriors.
Against Berne Union, Braden Anderson rushed 17 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns and had one reception for a 69-yard touchdown, D.J. Moore had three receptions for 83 yards and one score and Hartings completed 11 of 19 passes for 227 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jaiden Reynolds added an interception on defense.
"We acknowledge being in this position because I know everyone is talking about it amongst our community, but our players need to learn how to focus on the process and celebrate the positive results when you accomplish them," coach Hartings said.
"I'm also pleased with our attitude, the way we approach every practice to get better."