Wilmington and East Clinton both started the 2015 football season 2-1 but since then they have headed in opposite directions.
The Hurricane are 2-0 since South Central Ohio League play started while the Astros are 0-2.
The teams will meet 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alumni Field.
“EC plays extremely hard for four quarters,” said WHS head coach Scott Killen. “Their D-line comes off the ball very well and they have athletic players that really go after the ball.”
The Hurricane is slowly returning to health with Brady McCune and Austin Thompson back on defense. “Going to be a tremendous boost for us,” Killen said. “They are two seniors, two leaders and they understand how we are suppose to play.
“With getting everyone back, we are starting to get the players in the right place and now it’s about getting good reps in practice and getting everyone trusting that each other will do their job,” said Killen. “Only time will tell. Our D-line is getting better every practice with Alex Muslar, Zane Stevens, TraLee Joiner and Porter Pagett.”
Astros first-year coach Jeremy Yankey said keeping Wilmington from the big play will be key.
“WHS has a few guys who are a threat to break a big play at any time,” Yankey said. “They can run and pass well. Any time you kick or punt to WHS they can bring it back for a TD on you. They have several guys with speed that will create mismatch problems for us.”
Wilmington won last year’s first-ever SCOL meeting between the two teams 65-20.
Killen said the Hurricane are beginning to find a “rhythm offensively and playing at the tempo we want to play.”
Yankey sees a WHS defense that likes to “bring a lot of pressure right at you.”
The Astros, since losing Anthony Osburn to a knee injury, have struggled to get the running game going. But last week, quarterback Erik Moore had 74 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts and Wesley Kidder added 45 yards on 12 rushes.
“We finally began to run the ball effectively,” Yankey said.
And that helped the Astros build a 21-15 fourth quarter lead. In the end, though, the Blue Lions rallied for the win.
“We seem to be getting better each week,” said Yankey. “We have played more physical the last few games. We still have a way to go.”
Yankey said defensive coordinator Herb Mihalik and assistants Mike Fritz, D.J. Henry and Nick Elzey have been instrumental in guiding the EC defensive improvement this season.
Austin Hanners has been a leader on the defense the past few weeks. J.T. McCarren will get the nod against the top WHS receiver and has been strong up to this point in the season. Brian Barnes has caused several big turnovers from his defensive end position, Yankey said.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.