The waiting game is almost over for senior Alex Lemon.

The waiting game is almost over for senior Alex Lemon.

Lemon, a transfer student from Africentric Early College, will be the starting quarterback for the Bexley High School football team when the Lions play host to the Nubians on Friday.

"I can't wait for that game," said Lemon, who threw for 1,676 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games for Africentric last year. "I've been marking days on the calendar for that day, just scratching off the days until we play them.

"My cousin, Justin McKee (who had 862 receiving yards last year for Africentric), has been talking a little trash, but I just keep telling him, "'We'll see you on game day.'"

The two programs havent played each other since 2006 when Bexley rolled to a 47-8 win, but Lions coach John Smith and Nubians coach Eugene Barrett know theres a lot at stake for two teams coming off a losing season.

Africentric, which was 2-8 last year, is 4-1 in openers since 2005. Bexley, which went 3-7 last season, has lost three consecutive openers, with each coming at the hands of Canal Winchester, including 43-0 a year ago.

"Regardless of the outcome, there has to be something positive that comes out of that game," said Smith, whose team last won an opener in 2006 when it defeated Canal Winchester 20-8. "It's going to be important for us to come out of the gates strong."

"I believe that first game is so important in setting the tone for the year," Barrett said. "Winning that first game would help make (the players) believe that all the hard work was working."

Barrett took over the program from Glenn Blue, who went 14-26 in four seasons, during the offseason. Barrett has been emphasizing proper fundamentals. Last year, the Nubians used a spread offense with mixed results, totaling 72 points in the first three games and only 76 in the final seven.

"This year the spread is just one of the many things you're going to see us do," Barrett said. "Im more of a basic football guy and we've taken a different approach to things. We want to play smart, disciplined football."

McKee (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) has taken over for Lemon as quarterback with wide receiver Zachary Wheat (6-2, 205) being one of his primary targets. Running back Jerrime Saunders (5-11, 170) and fullback Andrew Tolliver (5-11, 210) will anchor the running game.

McKee will be tested by an experienced Bexley secondary. Elijah Scott (6-1, 170), D.J. Jones (5-7, 140), David Stewart (5-5, 160) and Jalen Robinette (6-4, 182) all saw playing time last year.

Bexley also returns inside linebackers Tommy Zervas (6-1, 208) and Josh Lake (6-0, 192), who were the team's leading tacklers last year with 110 and 105 tackles, respectively.

Robinette will serve as backup quarterback as well as one of Lemon's top targets as a wide receiver. Last year, he rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and had eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown and, according to Bucknuts.com, as one of the top junior receivers in the state.

Scott had 19 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Justin Grinter, a transfer from Hamilton Township, is expected to be Bexley's featured running back.

"Taking care of the football is going to play a big part of the game," Smith said. "Africentric has really good skill kids and we have to take care of business up front. A big part of any game is dealing with adversity. How do you respond when you have a turnover? How do you turn a negative into something positive?"