COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The last Central Ohio team to win a state championship was Pickerington Central in 2019.

The Tigers made back-to-back state title appearances in 2019 and 2020, but fell to Upper Arlington in triple overtime of the regional championship last year.

“It was very motivating the whole summer. I know all of our returners they’ve just been knowing we’ve got to get to the states,” defensive back Rasheem Biles said. “We fell short last year but we’ve been working every day.”

Pick Central lost four All OCC first teamers: Alex “Sonny” Styles who graduated a year early to start playing at Ohio State, Rutgers offensive lineman Kobe Asamoah and Cincinnati commits Tyler Gillison and CJ Doggette.

But Jay Sharrett, who enters his 20th season as the Tigers’ head coach, has gotten used to reloading and has plenty of Division I talent again this year, including DB Rasheem Biles (Pittsburgh commit), LB Dakari Frazier (Ball State commit), DL Kobi Gorman (Miami Ohio commit) and Isaiah Henderson (Michigan State walk-on).

Pick Central success under Sharett

  • 2-time state champion
  • 8-time regional champion
  • 16-time OCC Champion
  • Regular season record: 160-22
  • Playoff record: 42-16
  • 207 players went on to play college football

Pickerington North on the rise

Across town, Pickerington North is looking to avenge last year’s loss to their rival Pick Central in the regional semifinals.

In their first meeting on Sept. 10, the Panthers beat the Tigers 13-10 in overtime — Pick North’s first win in the rivalry game since November 2013.

The season was a success despite the tough loss because it was only the second time in program history the Panthers advanced past the second round of the playoffs. The only other time Pick North has gotten past the second round of the playoffs was 2012 when it lost to Moeller 26-21 in the state semifinals.

Nathan Hillerich enters his sixth season as Pick North’s head coach and looks to continue his team’s upward trajectory after making the playoffs in four of his five years with a combined record of 37 wins and 18 losses.

“I just think we have a bunch of athletes who can make plays and our coaches being able to put these athletes in the best positions to make plays,” senior offensive lineman Jonas Mann said. “Good o-line, good d-line, we win in the trenches. I think we’ll have a really good season.”