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Game of the Week: Pickerington North vs. New Albany Preview

By Danny Fogarty, 10/14/21, 9:00AM EDT


A preview of this week's Game of the Week between Pickerington North and New Albany (Photo Credit: Brian Bayless, ThisWeek).

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New Albany and Pickerington North are two of the best teams in central Ohio this season.

The Eagles (8-0) are undefeated and having their best season in years while Pickerington North (7-1) is enjoying almost as much success.

On Friday night, these two teams will meet in a game that will decide who will win the OCC-Ohio this season. 

Pickerington North coach Nathan Hillerich said that Friday's game is incredibly important in that the winner will be written in history.

"We're both undefeated in our league, so definitely matters," Hillerich said. "The winner of this game gets a share of the league title, guaranteed, which is huge for any school because that's something that is there forever."

Pickerington North knows this "forever" well as they shared last year's OCC-Ohio title with cross-city rival Pickerington Central.

While New Albany has won seven titles in the OCC, this is the first year they are in the OCC-Ohio.

The Eagles currently hold the better record, yet their path to the title lies 30 minutes away in an environment not fit for visitors.

Pickerington North has only lost twice at home in the last two seasons.  Hillerich said that he is happy to have home field advantage Friday night because of the energy the fans give the team.

"Our student section is really loud, so just anytime I think you're at home, you kind of are familiar with that," Hillerich said. "It's definitely a positive to have."

Students storm the field following New Albany's 31-3 victory over Gahanna on in Week 7. Lorrie Cecil, ThisWeek

New Albany has a point-differential of about 38 points this year meaning that they have won all of their games by an average of just under 40 points per game.

This offensive and defensive output is something that the Eagles have that is better than nearly every team in the area and on par with the best teams in the state.

New Albany coach Matthew "Bubba" Kidwell said this effectiveness on both sides of the ball comes from great preparation from his coordinators and the coaching staff as a whole.

"We have wonderful coaches. You know our offensive coordinator Brian Finn our defensive coordinator James Yarborough." "They and the rest of our coaches have done an amazing job of preparing our guys."

One player that forces other teams to prepare every Friday night is New Albany senior running back Jadyn Garnes.

This season, Garnes has led the team with 18 rushing touchdowns for an average of a little over two scores per game while also putting up 137 rushing yards per game.

Kidwell said that he has known for a while that Garnes was a standout player, and that an impressive offseason and a skilled offensive line have boosted him along the way.

"We knew he was going to be, you know a good player from the time that he was in school," Kidwell said. "I think what was attributed to Jaden's success is how hard he worked in the offseason, but also our offensive line."

Not to be outdone, the Panthers have their own rushing star in junior running back Dawaun Green.

This season, Green has 15 touchdowns and an average of 115 yards per game.

Hillerich said that Green will be crucial has he is the focal point of the Panthers' offense.

"He's gonna be key,"  Hillerich said. "I think just our offense, generally has been built around him."

On Friday night at Pickerington North's Panther Stadium, a game will be played that has many more implications than merely Week 9 of the regular season.

The winner of this game will clinch at least a part of the OCC-Ohio title and the honor that comes with that both this season and in many years in the future.