Leaves barely are falling in some areas and it still was 90 degrees earlier this week, but the calendar doesn't lie.

The second half of the high school football regular season begins this weekend. For the teams that will be fortunate enough to go all the way to compete for or win a state championship, only a third of the journey is complete.

League play finally begins for four of the five OCC divisions as well as for the CCL, including one of the area's oldest rivalries with Watterson visiting DeSales.

Here are five things we expect heading into Week 6:

1. OCC-Buckeye Division openers account for two of the best matchups in the area.

Olentangy Liberty will face its third consecutive undefeated opponent when it visits Westerville Central on Friday, Oct. 4.

The Warhawks have been so effective during their 5-0 start that they've had a running clock in every game, outscoring their opponents 273-25, while injury-riddled Liberty utilized its depth to edge visiting Groveport 21-14 on Sept. 27 to improve to 5-0.

For 4-1 Westerville South, a season-ending collarbone injury to quarterback Peter Pedrozo and an injury to running back Michael Mansaray might take a little luster off a home matchup against 3-2 Olentangy, but it shouldn't. The Braves have seemed to play their best during the second half of the season in recent years.

2. Canal Winchester is entering the most important stretch of its schedule so far.

On a quest to earn their second Division II playoff berth in three seasons, the 5-0 Indians face perhaps the two teams most likely to challenge them for the OCC-Capital championship in New Albany on Oct. 4 at home and Groveport on Oct. 11 on the road.

Projected to again be first in this week's Region 8 computer ratings, the Indians are getting more help this year than they did last season from most of their non-league opponents despite a combined record of 11-14. Not only would at least one win in the next two games be critical for league championship hopes, but points from beating a Division I team would further boost Canal Winchester's playoff standing.

3. A few other league openers will double as measuring sticks for surging teams.

Pickerington North suddenly has found itself after a 29-27 road upset of previously undefeated Dublin Coffman on Sept. 27, and now the Panthers and quarterback Jack Sawyer have yet another litmus test when they play host to 5-0 Reynoldsburg on Oct. 4. Despite a 2-3 record, North was projected to be in the top eight in Division I, Region 3 this week.

Marysville enters its OCC-Central opener at Coffman eager to boost its resume and standing in Division I, Region 2.

The Monarchs are 4-1 but have yet to play a team above .500, and they gave the Shamrocks a scare last year before falling 23-17 in overtime.

4. Watterson and DeSales start, not finish, the CCL schedule with their rivalry.

This classic rivalry has a Week 10 feel to it, but this year it begins the league schedule for both the 4-1 Eagles and the 4-1 Stallions. Watterson leads the all-time series 36-26-1, including a 21-14 victory last year, but DeSales is 11-4 against the Eagles under coach Ryan Wiggins.

Watterson was ranked sixth in the Division III state poll last week, but that was before a 28-7 loss to Dayton Chaminade Julienne on Sept. 27.

5. Columbus South is halfway to its first playoff berth but has a lot of work left.

The Bulldogs have averaged 46.6 points in starting 5-0 for the first time this century and were projected to be tied for fifth in Division III, Region 11 this week, but the schedule looks to get tougher after a home game against 0-5 Columbus West on Oct. 4. Games against usual City League-South powers Walnut Ridge, Independence, Eastmoor Academy and Marion-Franklin follow in that order.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave