The spread offense is becoming so popular that Upper Arlington High School football coach Mike Golden decided to switch his teams base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-5 last season. Among the opponents the Golden Bears will face this season that employ the spread is Dresden Tri-Valley, which they play host to Friday in their opener.

The spread offense is becoming so popular that Upper Arlington High School football coach Mike Golden decided to switch his teams base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-5 last season. Among the opponents the Golden Bears will face this season that employ the spread is Dresden Tri-Valley, which they play host to Friday in their opener.

"They kind of remind me of (Hilliard) Darby a few years ago when (Jeremy) Ebert was playing quarterback," Golden said. "They do different things out of the (shot) gun. Theyre pretty clever. Theyre a spread team, but theyll run out of it. With a 3-5 base defense, we should be pretty well prepared for a spread offense."

Tri-Valley went 9-2 last season and qualified for the Division II playoffs, losing to Olentangy Orange 28-21 in the first round. The Scotties, however, lost several key players to graduation, including quarterback Clay Cameron, who is a preferred walk-on at the University of Akron after being named Muskingum Valley League Player of the Year last season.

"Weve run the spread for about four years," said Justin Buttermore, who is in his seventh season as coach of the Scotties after spending four seasons as an assistant at Hilliard Davidson. "We change some things from year to year, depending on our personnel. Were a pretty young team this year."

Nathan Strock, a sophomore, takes over as quarterback for the Scotties. His primary target should be wide receiver Casey Williams (6-foot, 170 pounds). Austin Jones is expected to be the featured running back.

Defensively, Tri-Valley uses multiple formations, though it primarily employs a Shade 50 base defense, Buttermore said. Key defensive players include Jones and Tyler Collopy at linebacker, Skyler Hanby on the line and Williams in the secondary.
Buttermore said his defense will be challenged by UAs wing-T offense.

"Theres a lot of misdirection," said Buttermore, whose team posted three shutouts last season and allowed an average of 13.2 points per game. "Theyre more like an I-formation (offense). We havent seen the formations that they use. And it looks to me like they have two really good (running) backs (Ryan McSheffery and Drew Karram) and their quarterback (Jake Johns) has experience, so we understand we face a tremendous challenge."

McSheffery started the final six games last season, rushing for a team-high 793 yards and seven touchdowns on 133 carries. Karram ran for 577 yards and four touchdowns on 119 carries a year ago despite missing significant time because of a concussion.

Johns became the starter in week six last season after an injury to Kyle Cassady and completed 33 of 76 passes for 469 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Weve made the playoffs three of the last four years, but we wanted to upgrade our schedule so that we dont just make the playoffs, but go far in the playoffs," Buttermore said. "Upper Arlington is a big upgrade. I understand how good Upper Arlington is and how good the OCC is. Upper Arlington is the best team on our schedule. We know the physicality of the game, the size of their kids and the speed of the game are going to challenge our kids and make them better."

UA is looking to win its opener for the first time since 2007. The Bears lost their last two openers, falling 23-6 to Pickerington Central in 2008 and 52-7 to Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas _ the mythical national champion in 2008 _ a year ago in the Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic.

"We have a chance to step up and have a real solid opener," Golden said.