Four games have revealed some clues, but we’re still waiting for the OCC Division title footage to come together as many medium teams and a few special teams have identified themselves so far.
Columbus, Ohio – The middle of the season is something of a landmark, more so in the Ohio Capital Conference than in most leagues, because it signifies a final tune-up before the widespread start of divisional play. next week.
New Albany, Big Walnut and Dublin Jerome are the only remaining undefeated heading into the conclusion of Week V, with only New Albany having an inviting path to another victory this week.
Big Walnut hits the road to take on 3-1 Westerville South and Jerome takes his perfect record to 3-1 Hilliard Bradley in by far the two most interesting games in the league on Friday.
What lies beyond is largely a mystery, given that 13 of the 34 teams in the monstrous four-division conference are 2-2 after four games.
A 7-3 mark last week brings the season record to 29-14.
Big Walnut (4-0) at South Westerville (3-1) – The advantage in OCC Capital goes to the winner in what could be a high score affair. Eagles all-state tailback Nate Severs is on a 2,000-yard pace and already has 14 touchdowns.
Nasir Phillips can beat him for the Wildcats, but he’ll face a Big Walnut defense that’s allowed less than 100 combined yards in four games. This tilts the result towards Big Walnut.
New Albany (4-0) at Olentangy Liberty (1-3) – Liberty looked more like the powerhouse than it has traditionally been in a surprising 21-17 road win in Berlin last week. The Patriots are struggling to move football, which isn’t good against a New Albany offense that can monopolize possession.
Expect Christian Manville and the Eagles to retire in the second half, most likely thanks to a ball-peddling defense that averages plus-two turnover margin each week.
Dublin Jerome (4-0) at Hilliard Bradley (3-1) – Bradley has already matched his win tally from last season, but the Jaguars want more. Quarterback Bradyn Fleharty could break the 1,000-yard mark this week, challenging a Jerome defense that allowed just one touchdown last week in his first win over rival Dublin Coffman in the school history.
Jerome’s Luke McLoughlin is a workhorse the Celtics offense is built on. Jerome should be ready for that after getting smashed to the ground last week in Marysville, but the Jags defense gave up at least two touchdowns to every team they played against. Go with Jerome in a tight.
Gahanna Lincoln (3-1) vs. Pickerington Central (2-2) –Lincoln coach Bruce Ward is looking for his first win in eight tries against Central, which has made life miserable for nearly everyone in the league during that stretch.
The Lions’ Diore Hubbard riddled Reynoldsburg or 298 rushing yards and five touchdowns, but nobody does that at Central. Take the Tigers to win their 16th straight in the series and 21st in the teams’ last 23 meetings.
Groveport (2-2) at Upper Arlington (3-1) – The Cruisers rebounded from an 0-2 start to come in at .500, but UA poses a whole different challenge than Worthington Kilbourne or Westland. The Bears defense will yield serious size to a Groveport line comprising three 300-pounders.
That’s nothing new for UA, however, who seem to be finding their attacking rhythm behind QB James Hayek. He and tailback Connor McClelland will provide just enough offense to take the Bears to 4-1.
Westerville Central (1-3) at Dublin Coffman (2-2) – Central is more explosive than Coffman, but that doesn’t mean much. Even Shamrocks coach Geron Stokes admitted his side’s difficulty moving the ball last week in a first loss in school history against Dublin Jerome.
Central has never beaten Coffman either. The ‘Rocks won’t suffer that fate two weeks in a row, as they find a way to recapture some of the magic they used to win on the road at Canton McKinley.
Dublin Scioto (0-4) at Worthington Kilbourne (2-2) – Game 2 of the OCC Capital Division this week offers Scioto a chance for his first victory. The Irish have lost just once to Kilbourne and showed enough in a failed late rally against Westerville South to give them the green light in a finish on the wire.
Hilliard Darby (2-2) at Lancaster (0-4) – The Gales are really struggling defensively, which isn’t a good ailment to have with Darby’s Wing-T coming to town. Expect a big night for Javi Quimba and the Panthers.
Olentangy Berlin (2-2) at Hilliard Davidson (2-2) – Davidson is eager to get back on the field to shake off the bitter taste of his 7-3 loss to Darby, which followed a 95-yard fumble return in the final minutes.
Scoring has been a problem for the Wildcats all season, while Berlin’s offense seems to be cooling off just after finding their footing. On the road, the Bears won’t quite have enough to handle an angry opponent.
Olentangy Orange (2-2) at Newark (2-2) – Orange was waiting for JJ Calip to burst and he certainly did with 191 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in a surprisingly dominant 30-point win over Olentangy.
Orange has been anything but consistent, but their big-play potential should decide this one.
Bruce Hooley hosts The Bruce Hooley Show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 94.5 FM The Answer in Dayton and 98.9 The Answer in Columbus.