2012 Record: Hopewell-Loudon (4-6); Leipsic (8-3)
Coaches: Hopewell-Loudon, Jeremy Nutter; Leipsic, Joe Kirkendall
Last Year: Leipsic 41, Hopewell-Loudon 13
Outlook: The last two years the Chieftains and the Vikings have traded wins, each victory going to the road team, with the winner ending up in the playoffs each year.
Leipsic is fresh off a Week 11 appearance last year, and Nutter is expecting another quality Viking team when he brings the Chieftains to Putnam County.
"They're a well-coached football team," Nutter said. "They're big and physical, have a running back that can make you miss, and a quarterback that can make all the throws. You put it all together, and it's a pretty formable squad."
Nutter brings in a team that has to fill some key holes at the skill positions. But he says his team is coming off a good summer and will be ready when the ball is kicked off.
"We had a very successful camp," he said. "The kids work their butts off and are focused on getting better every day."
Facing a team with the firepower the Vikings possess, ball control will be key for the Chieftains.
"Take care of the football," Nutter listed as a key to coming back home with a win. "We're going to focus on keeping possession.
"They're so explosive on the offense, we need to stay ahead of the downs on offense, convert third downs and control the football, put points on the board."
at South Central
2012 Records: Seneca East 7-3; South Central 3-7
Last year: Seneca East 20, South Central 0
Outlook: Seneca East has beaten South Central in the season opener the last three years, but Phillips is expecting to see a different Trojan team this year.
"They're big up front, good offensive line. They like to tun off-tackle over and over and keep coming at you," Phillips said. "They were kind of one-dimensional last year. They've improved greatly at the quarterback position; they're throw efficiently. Adding that component to their offense, they've become much more multi-dimensional."
Phillips will have some youth on the field Friday night, but he's excited about what that youth can do.
"We're going to put some young guys out there," he said. "But they're young guys who worked hard and we believe in. They can get the job done and they're playmakers.
According to Phillips, the game will be decided by which team gains control up front.
"They got some beef on both the offensive and defensive lines," he said. "Our ability to control the line of scrimmage is the key to the game. On top of that, in your first game, just like every game taking care of the football is extremely important."
at Upper Sandusky
Coaches: Carey Todd Worst; Upper Sandusky Jake Moyer
2012: Carey 8-2; Upper Sandusky 7-4
Last year: Upper Sandusky 26, Carey 12.
Outlook: One playoff team from last year, and one that missed by less than a point.
Add to the fact that the teams are close in proximity, and you have the ingredients for a wonderful week one matchup.
"It's gonna be a slam bang affair, there's no way to predict who has the upper hand," Moyer said, "because both teams are capable of winning the game."
And both sound - sound, anyway - like they are approaching the contest with similar offensive game plans.
Moyer said that while some talk about the "firepower" the Rams return -starting with star quarterback Tylor Pritchard - they seem to forget about what the team lost up front.
He said the Rams will come in with a somewhat conservative approach.
"Basically, we're gonna try to play a little bit of keep away, because of their offense and how they like to control the clock," Moyer said.
The Upper Sandusky coach said he wouldn't be surprised to see the Blue Devils open up their offense.
"We know just about what they're going to do," Worst said. "They've evolved a bit. In the scrimmages they're showing a spread."
Worst said no one should expect a Kenton-like pass happy offense, though. When asked if the Blue Devils would open up their offense a lot, his deadpan response indicated that.
"Depends on your definition of 'a lot, he said. "Maybe from years past... I don't see myself as that kind of person. We need that physical mindset.
"We're gonna have to do what we can to get some good yardage," Worst said. "at the same time, get some good ball control, play keep away."
at New London
Coaches: Buckeye Central Jeffrey Niedermier; New London Marc Marsh
2012: Buckeye Central 2-8; New London 6-4
Last year: Buckeye Central 28, New London 19.
Outlook: In a matchup between first-game coaches, Niedermier said the Bucks have yet to decide on a starting quarterback for Friday evening.
"Not yet," Niedermier said when asked if he'd decided between Kameron Jones and Grant Loy. "It will be more of a game-time decision for that."
Niedermier said Buckeye Central will have to be ready against the New London offense, which will "run a lot of stuff out of the gun."
Niedermier said it will be a challenge.
"I expect them to come out and give us a game," he said. "I think our guys feel real good to be able to go out there and play.
Coaches: Marian Pleasant Aaron Cook; Mohawk Erik Baker
2012: Marion Pleasant 7-3, Mohawk 3-7
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: Mohawk faces a big test in week one, which is just the way Baker wants it.
"The old coaching axiom is that this is the time of the year where the most improvement happens," Baker said. "That is what we are looking for; we feel like we are improving as a team every day. This will be a great challenge for us... one that we have been training for since we took this game...it is a 'bar raiser."
Offensively, Baker said Pleasant runs a "jet sweep based offense."
"[The Spartans] like to pound ball and then throw over top to their very quick receivers," Baker said.
Baker said it's a big game for his squad.
"For us to grow as a program, this is the type of competition we need to play," he said.
2012: Ottawa-Glandorf 12-1; Fostoria 0-10.
Coaches: Ken Schriner; Jim Kelly, Fostoria.
Last year: Ottawa-Glandorf 62, Fostoria 7.
Outlook: If anything constitutes a down year for Ottawa-Glandorf, this would be it.
The Titans return just one starter on offense and three on defense, but one thing O-G always brings back is tradition. The Titans enter this fall on a string of eight playoff appearances in a row and 11 out of the last 17 years, with last year's lone loss (41-31 to Bishop Hartley) coming in the Division IV regional finals.
But while the names and faces change, what to expect doesn't, Kelly said.
"With them, they run, play action it," he said. "We know what they run, they're very good at. They're going to stick to their system.
"That run game is going to be key," he said.
Senior fullback Brad Racer (55-370, 7 TDs) will figure big in that. He's the lone offensive starter back and returns after being used primarily as a blocker for an offense that set several school records.
Friday he'll be called upon to clear the way for tailback Shane Schroeder (46-357, 4 TDs).
Fostoria only returns 10 letterwinners of its own, but two of their veteran senior linemen (Deante Lincoln and Micah Randall) might miss Friday's game because of injuries.
"We're a little banged up, but we're going to go out and compete," Kelly said.
"That hurts, but it is what it is and we've got to grow from it. That's part of a young team," he said. "We've got to have guys learn and get ready."
2012: Arcadia 4-6; Lakota 2-8.
Coaches: Pat Gehrisch, Arcadia; Dave Vodika, Lakota.
Last year: Arcadia 41, Lakota 20.
Outlook: Arcadia has a size advantage coming in, with 35 players returning, 11 with varsity experience.
The Raiders come into the season opener with just 24 players on the roster, 15 of which are letterwinners.
---The A-T sports staff