at Seneca East
Coaches: South Central's Aaron Brokaw; Seneca East's Ed Phillips
2011: South Central 1-9; Seneca East 7-3
Last year: Seneca East 45, South Central 14
Outlook: Phillips and Seneca East face a challenge in Attica Friday. Sure, South Central won just once a year ago, but the Trojans have embarked on a new era - this is Brokaw's first season.
As a result, Phillips and his staff have been relying on scrimmages to get an idea of what South Central will try to do.
"That helps to get an idea," Phillips said. "But you never know what's happening when you have a first-year coach."
From what he has seen, Phillips believes the Trojans will go with a power running game behind a powerful force up front.
"They probably average 240 on the offensive line," Phillips said.
Phillips said the SE offense will face a squad that likes to put five guys up front. The key for the Tigers, though, is holding onto the ball.
"I think the key to Week One is taking care of the football," Phillips said. "Beyond that, we have to be assignment-sound. If we do that, we're gonna be fine."
On defense, Phillips said the Tigers need to hold the SC offense in check. He said he's seen one thing in the practices that needs to be corrected.
"We played well, but we have allowed a few big plays," he said. "We can't allow the big plays against these guys."
2011: Leipsic 11-2; Hopewell-Loudon 10-1
Coaches: Leipsic's John Kirkendall; Hopewell-Loudon's Jeremy Nutter
Last year: Hopewell-Loudon opened it's season with a 23-13 win in Leipsic.
Outlook: Not only is this a return game from last season's opener, it's a contest between a pair of 2011 playoff teams. And even though it's Week One, Nutter didn't downplay Friday night's importance.
"I think it's not a secret this is a big game with implications for later in this season," Nutter said. ""[But] they don't hand out any trophies in Week One."
The key on defense for the Chieftains may be finding a way to neutralize star receiver Devin Mangas, a second-team all state selection a year ago,
"They have a nice wide receiver in the Mangas kid, one of the top-range of athletes we'll see for the year," he said. "All 11 defenders have to be responsible for him."
It will be a big night for a number of H-L players, including Alec Gregg, who steps into the quarterback position following the graduation of Tyler Tyree.
"Make no mistake about it, Alec Gregg is ready," Nutter said. "The guys know he's prepared."
And Nutter said he's not the only one who will be.
"It's a great challenge and a great opportunity to play a great football team," Nutter said. "That's what our program is about."
Coaches: Dave Vodika, Lakota; Pat Gehrisch, Arcadia.
2011: Lakota 1-9; Arcadia 7-4.
Last year: Arcadia beat Lakota, 45-13.
Outlook: It's not only the first game of the new season, but the first of two new eras.
Vodika and Gehrisch usher in their coaching debuts at their respective schools in a head-to-head matchup, but the Lakota coach said his Raiders and the hometown Redskins won't be totally in the dark about each other.
"He's seen us and we've seen them [in scrimmages], so we each have a pretty good idea of what's going on," he said. "I'm pretty impressed with what he's done [in a short amount of time].
"The quarterback, I think, is a really good football player. He was a junior with a senior laden football team last year. He still continues to impress me and I think they're using him well."
Arcadia is coming off its first trip to the playoffs, giving the Redskins a leg up on Lakota in tradition. But Vodika said that's something the Raiders would like to emulate.
"Our situation is one where we need to establish, start some tradition. We're just working hard and looking forward to it," he said.
"We look forward to changing Lakota history," Vodika said. "Sooner or later, we're going to get it there."
But doing so will take a little time, he said, and the first step is to become competitive while trying to avenge last year's 45-13 loss to Arcadia.
"I've told the boys we don't know yet who's good and who's not as good, but we're worried about us being competitive," Vodika said. "If we can learn to do that, then we're going to be happy with the results, whatever they are. Right now we want our guys to be competitive.
"We can't expect us to put it on hyper drive and get into the top 20 [percent of state teams], we've got to work at it."
at Upper Scioto Valley
Coaches: Mohawk, Erik Baker; Upper Scioto Valley, Josh Spencer
2011: Mohawk 3-7; Upper Scioto Valley 3-7
Last Year: Mohawk 21, Upper Scioto Valley 7
Outlook: While watching film of Upper Scioto Valley's scrimmages, it might have been easier to find Waldo than to find a running play out of the Ram offense. On film, Baker saw a team that likes to put the ball in the air, reminiscent to one of Western Ohio's more prominent programs.
"They run the same offense as Kenton. Obviously they don't have Maty Mauk, but they're trying to complete that same kind of scenario and run the same style of offense," Baker said. "In the three scrimmage films we've seen, they may have run the ball 4 times.
"They like to throw vertically and get down the field, and when you adjust to stop it, they'll go underneath and throw bubble screens."
According to Baker, the formation the Rams like to use prohibits them from using a standard rushing attack. However, they make up for it with screens and draws.
"They feel their quarterback is their best offensive threat. They put him at seven yards (behind center) where he's almost unreachable with a standard pass rush," he said. "It takes leverage away from the traditional rushing game. Instead they run middle screens, jet sweeps with the receiver and QB draws."
Upper Scioto Valley's defense is just as aggressive as their offense.
"They are very aggressive up front, lots of stunting. They give you a myriad of things to defend and we'll have to do some different things up front to get our offense going," Baker said.
However, Baker said the Warriors will concentrate on playing their own game, not trying to work around what Upper Scioto Valley is doing.
"You're doing yourself a disservice if your doing everything as a reaction to the other team," he said. "We've been pretty good at being able to attack. Whatever they do to us, we feel we can have a counter to it."
Coaches: Jim Kelly, Fostoria; Ken Schriner, Ottawa-Glandorf.
2011: Fostoria 5-5; Ottawa-Glandorf 8-3.
Last year: Ottawa Glandorf 32, Fostoria 0
Outlook: Kelly and the Redmen get no easy start to his tenure as coach as they travel to Ottawa-Glandorf for Friday's first game.
The Titans, a playoff team every year since 2005, have kept FHS scoreless in the past three season-openers. And while the defense has shut down Fostoria of late, Kelly said O-G's offense has been just as formidable, churning out wins of 22-0 (2009), 48-0 (2010) and 32-0 (2011).
"Our basic concern is the way they run the ball and their physicality. They're a system off that runs the ball hard. They're determined to get in their lanes," he said.
"They have a good quarterback and good running backs. They have a great system, they stick with it, they're real diligent with it," Kelly said. "That's what makes them good. They'd don't crumble if they give up a score, they come right back."
The keys to success, Kelly said, are the same this Friday as any other game day: Limit the mistakes and capitalize on the Redmen's athleticism whenever possible.
"It's always the basics of football. We can't turn the football over. We've got to force them to make some mistakes and we've got to be tenacious after the football," he said. "Another thing for us, if we make a mistake, we can't get down on ourselves but get back up.
"We have some good athletes and we have some seniors who are good athletes. We feel like we can put challenges out there (against their defense)," he said. "On the defensive side of the ball, that athleticism lets you fly to ball."
And Kelly said the Redmen are anxious to do that, not only because it's the season's first game, but because they want a chance to please the community and the team's history.
"We're excited. Kids are champing at the bit," he said. "I look at it as an outstanding opportunity when you can represent Fostoria. It's a great tradition with a community behind it that supports it and wants to win.
"We're starting to get the kids to understand the importance of it. They hear about the state championship every day and to understand what that means."
Coaches: Upper Sandusky, Jake Moyer; Carey, Todd Worst
2011: Carey, 8-3; Upper Sandusky, 5-5.
Last year: Carey 42, Upper Sandusky 13
Outlook: Both veteran coaches know that first games of the season mean jitters.
It's how their teams handle those mistakes that will likely determine the winner Friday night at C.D. Wentling Field.
"It's like with most first games: the games are usually lost not won generally because of turnovers and the kicking game," Moyer said. "That's happened to me in the past. It is what it is. Everyone is nervous and everyone is jumpy. You have to constantly take care of the ball. And take advantage of the turnovers because there is going to be mistakes by both teams."
Worst said he knows both teams could make some miscues.
"We know there's going to be some mistakes here and there," Worst said. "I hope we're able to overcome those mistakes and learn a lot these first couple of games."
The Carey mentor said while Upper Sandusky only lost four players from last year's team, he puts more weight in what the Rams did in the preseason than watching film from last year's drubbing of Upper.
"The way it looks, the offensive line is pretty strong. Defensively, they're strong in the middle," Worst said. "The two scrimmages we saw (their opponents) weren't able to run between the tackles very well and that's a concern for us."
For Moyer, he doesn't need to look at film or watch a scrimmage since Carey has been running a version of the wishbone for what seems like forever.
"They pound with a purpose. That purpose is they've been running this conservative offense long enough to know all the defenses they'll see against it," Moyer said. "It makes it easier for them to adjust to whatever their doing.
"Their offense makes you become very assignment oriented. Every play, someone has to tackle the fullback first, then the quarterback, then the pitch man. Even though it's not the old wishbone offense we saw from Oklahoma from the '70s. It's more of a power bone. But it's the same idea. If you're assigned to him, you better get him, or he's gone."
Moyer said coming out strong in the second half may be the most important thing of all.
"You must weather the storm. After halftime, Carey really lays the wood to you and tries to steal the momentum from you," he said. "That's been that way forever. If you weather the storm, you'll be successful. If you don't you fail."
at Buckeye Central
Coaches: New London Justin Vorhies; Buckeye Central Jason Ratliff
2012: New London 2-8, Buckeye Central 12-3.
Last year: Buckeye Central beat New London 28-7.
Outlook: The Bucks are ready to begin the new season with the same momentum they had at the end of last year, when they went on a playoff run that ended in the state title game.
Buckeye Central faces New London with a number of new starters.
"Everyday we get better," Ratliff said. "We're going to find the kids that can step up and play."
In order to take the win in the season's first game, Ratliff believes his team will need to defend well and avoid penalties.
"They have two good quarterbacks, one a good passer and one a good runner. We just need to figure out who's in the game and defend either one," he said. "Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key. And since it's the first game for both teams, I think nerves will be a factor. Fumbling and penalties like that are things we need to control. The key to the game will mainly be stopping their running game. New London has some quick running backs, like Clay Wilson, who did pretty well in the scrimmages."
Losing players to graduation also will be a factor for the Bucks, who graduated 10 starting players from their offense and eight from their defense.
"New London has a very talented senior class, some with three-year starting experience," said Ratliff. "So they have the experience factor on us. They have a new coach, but he was on stats last year. We just have to do things the right way in order to beat them and the kids have to do their part in order for us to be successful."
-The A-T sports staff