Two longtime friends hope to get their football teams back on track against the other Friday, Sept. 18, when Westerville North visits Canal Winchester in OCC-Capital Division play.
Both teams lost second-half leads last week, as the Warriors were outscored 15-7 in the fourth quarter by Westerville South to fall 32-28 and the Indians gave up the final four touchdowns of their game against Dublin Scioto to lose 28-21.
North coach Bryan Johnson said it was simply a matter of getting “back to work” for his team, which is 2-1 overall and in the OCC-Capital Division and expects a run-heavy game this week against the Indians and coach Josh Stratton, a fellow Westland graduate.
“We pride ourselves on being a physical football team. This is the year we've been that. We've been grinding (drives) out,” Johnson said. “(Canal Winchester) is going to be more trying to run the ball a little bit. (South’s approach) is spread them out and get their fast guys in space.”
Sylvester Bockarie ran for 165 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries and recovered a fumble to set up his score for North, which lost to South for the 14th consecutive time. Brennan Albertini added a touchdown run, and Chris Campbell returned an interception 14 yards for a score.
Stephan Byrd rushed for 235 yards and touchdowns of 35 and 75 yards on 18 carries to pace Canal Winchester, which led Scioto 21-0 with late in the first half.
Scioto scored with 18 seconds left in the second quarter, however, and then got a 99-yard kickoff return from Lesley Andoh to start the third quarter.
According to Stratton, that was the first special teams touchdown allowed by one of his teams since 2015, when he coached at New Richmond.
The Indians, who are 1-2 overall and in the league, gained 263 of their 279 yards on the ground.
“We have a lot of problems to fix,” Stratton said. “When we come together and play as a team, we’re pretty good. When our backs are against the wall, we have to have each other’s backs.”
North, which is seeking its first 3-1 start since 1997, leads the all-time series with Canal Winchester 4-3. The Indians have won the past two meetings, 24-7 last year and 38-15 in 2018.