Thomas Worthington High School football coach Scott Gordon remembers how significant last year's opening win over Jonathan Alder was for his team's confidence. He also remembers how efficient his offense was.

Thomas Worthington High School football coach Scott Gordon remembers how significant last year's opening win over Jonathan Alder was for his team's confidence. He also remembers how efficient his offense was.

In a 35-28 victory, the Cardinals passed for 335 yards and rushed for 118 to win their first opener since 2005, laying the foundation for a season in which they finished 5-5, marking their first non-losing season since 1999.

On Friday when Thomas plays host to Jonathan Alder, the challenge will be to duplicate that attack with new faces in the huddle.

"If you win that first game, you've got a much better chance at a winning season," Gordon said. "Alder is a tremendous team, but we've been preparing to win all summer and this is the first one we get to play."

The Cardinals offense has been adjusting to life without top running back Eric Monfort. The junior suffered a broken collarbone in a scrimmage Aug. 14. He'll have surgery on Friday and expected to be sidelined six weeks.

Gordon has Antonio Williams and Mark Chadwell rotating with Chris Boyd at running back.

Senior quarterback John Chadwell will get his first start under center, protected by four returning starters on the offensive line in Michael Allison, Shane Fullerton, Nick Sharick and Will Spernoga. Gordon said having an experienced line will give him more play-calling options against the Pioneers, who have an inexperienced defense that primarily utilizes 4-3 and 4-4 formations.

"We've got athletic guys that can fill the hole that Eric's injury leaves," Chadwell said. "Watching film on Alder, they don't run a lot of different defensive schemes. If we run a balanced offense, we should have some success."

The challenge for Thomas defense will be Jonathan Alder senior quarterback Graham Johnston, who scored 13 touchdowns last season, including two against the Cardinals.

"They replaced players that they lost very nicely," Gordon said. "They've got a huge offensive line and a quarterback who can run and throw. You really can't stop him, you just have to contain him."

Thomas will employ an experienced, 3-4 base defense that includes linemen Tyler Miesse and Sharick and linebackers Mike Pisching and Dan McAllister.

Jonathan Alder went 7-4 last season, losing to eventual Division IV state champion Kettering Alter 42-0 in the first round of the playoffs. The Pioneers, who have made 10 consecutive postseason appearances, won their final seven regular-season games after starting 0-3.


Thomas led 21-7 at halftime in last year's contest before Jonathan Alder tied the score at 21 in the third quarter. The Cardinals responded with back-to-back touchdown drives to put the game away.
Gordon hopes to see the same approach on the field on Friday.

"There's some functional anxiety with the first game of the year," he said. "We've got a lot of guys who are very committed, and we're ready to see what kind of team we have."