In almost any other region in Ohio, Pickerington North's 6-4 record this fall would've catapulted the Panthers into the OHSAA playoffs. But that's not the hand destiny dealt.
Even with wins over Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Gahanna Lincoln — all of which are playoff programs — the Panthers were left on the outside looking in. The team's four losses came to programs with a combined record of 32-8.
While they would've certainly preferred a playoff berth, junior wide receiver Chris Scott and sophomore defensive end Jack Sawyer — both Ohio State recruiting targets — are both proud of how their team played.
The next goal, however, is to get even better and play in a Week 11 contest next season.
"For me, I think it was a successful year," Scott said. "There are some things I could've done better and obviously, it's not the way we wanted to end the year. But as far as the team and where we're at right now, I think we're going in the right direction."
Scott, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound three-star prospect, is considered Ohio's 14th-best prospect in the class of 2020. He's garnered interest from several programs including Michigan State, Michigan, Kentucky and Notre Dame.
After a season in which he hauled in 52 receptions for 793 yards and 10 touchdowns, his days are certainly becoming much busier.
"Things are starting to take off for me in a recruiting sense, so I'm just playing it by ear and taking it day by day," Scott said. "Since I'm a junior, the whole texting and calling thing have came into play. A lot more coaches call and check in each day and each night. DMs, text messages, things like that."
Scott has visited Ohio State on multiple occasions and has also been to Notre Dame, Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State.
"I'd say that Kentucky has kind of been one that's popped out, just because of their facilities and how they renewed everything there. The coaching staff was great," Scott said. "I definitely look at the team, the athletes and how well I connect with the coaches. But I also look at the environment and the fans, and how well I think I would fit in."
Pickerington North WR @C_loading01 and DE @jacksawyer40 discuss how their seasons went and what theyre looking forward to. Check for a full article on Scott and Sawyer this Thursday at @11W. pic.twitter.com/1mIq9Tskjy— Derrick Webb (@dw1509) October 30, 2018
As for Sawyer, his recruitment has been at high demand. 247Sports has the 6-foot-5 defensive end ranked as Ohio's top prospect in the 2021 class and the No. 3 overall recruit nationally.
"I think I'm in a good spot in my recruitment right now. Obviously, I have a lot of great offers on the table and I like all the schools that have offered me," Sawyer said. "For me, it's what the coach is like. Like how are their coaching style and how would I fit in? It's how they treat their players and, obviously, I look for a winning tradition and if I could see myself there for four or five years."
Sawyer's relationship with Urban Meyer is a good one. Regardless of what the media has reported this season, Sawyer said he makes his decisions based on his personal interactions with the Buckeyes' head coach.
"[Meyer] stresses working your butt off, every day," Sawyer said. "It doesn't matter what you're doing. He stresses being the best you can possibly be at whatever it is. Whatever happens happens, but you work and play as hard as you can. The rest takes care of itself."
"[Meyer] stresses working your butt off, every day. It doesn't matter what you're doing. he stresses being the best you can possibly be at whatever it is."– Jack Sawyer
Currently, Sawyer has offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan State among others. He finished this season with 62 tackles, 15 for a loss, and six sacks.
As Scott and Sawyer's recruitment continue to ramp up, and both processes inevitably will, there's good news for Buckeye fans as both have personal connections to current and former Ohio State players.
Ohio State freshman Alex Williams played at Pickerington North last year, and had quite the impact on the duo while he was teammates with Scott and Sawyer.
"Coming in as a freshman last year and starting on one of the best teams in the state at the same position, on the other side of Alex Williams ... he kind of took me under his wing," Sawyer said. "He stayed in my ear, taught me how to act and respond to criticism. He played a big part in my early stage of becoming a big-time prospect."
Sawyer also said he has a good relationship with linebacker Malik Harrison, a graduate of Columbus Walnut Ridge. Scott's Buckeye connections go even deeper. He's a relative of Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers and a distant relative of former Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller, who he credits as one of his all-time favorite players.
"Alex Williams went to Pickerington North and we make sure we stay in touch with him. He comes to some of the games and asks how we're doing," he said. "Then Robert Landers is one of my family members so I stay in touch with him and he asks how everything's going. Being blessed enough to be recruited by the Buckeyes, they all stay on top of me."
Scott and Sawyer are both planning on future visits to Ohio Stadium. And while neither is close to making a college decision just yet, they both certainly respect what the Buckeyes have to offer.
"They definitely speak highly about their university, and not just athletic-wise," Scott said. "Things like keep working hard and making sure I stay on top of my books, that's what they've focused on. I make sure I listen and take in what they say. They're the best of the best right now. That's the level I'm trying to be at."