Determining whether the City League-North Division or City-South will be stronger this season has been made easier by schedule makers.

Determining whether the City League-North Division or City-South will be stronger this season has been made easier by schedule makers.

The matchup between defending City-North champion and host Brookhaven and Marion-Franklin from the City-South is among five crossover games between the two leagues on Friday.

The others are Beechcroft at Independence, Eastmoor Academy at Northland, Whetstone at Briggs and Columbus West at Columbus East.

Last season, the Red Devils lost to the Bearcats 23-21 in the opener, but won the rematch 31-24 in a Division II, Region 7 final.

With both teams expected again to be among the most physically gifted City teams, Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele believes it could come down to which team performs better on special teams. Kickoff returns for scores by Brookhaven impacted both games.

First-year Red Devils quarterback Corey Benson has a new group of offensive linemen in front of him. Several other weapons from last year, including running backs Paul Harris, Chad Jones and Amir Robinson and wide receivers Jeremy McCoy and Nate Spears, are back.

The Bearcats return quarterback Tajuan Green at quarterback and Donivan Lipsey at running back but have few other returnees on either side of the ball.

"Your athletes are going to wash each other out," said Haffele, whose team shared the City-South title with Eastmoor and Walnut Ridge last season. "I think the offensive and defensive lines and whoever can win special teams will determine who wins this game."

The meeting between Eastmoor and Northland features a pair of teams with experienced rosters.

The Warriors went 8-3 last year and return senior quarterback and defensive back Ron Tanner, who has verbally committed to play for Ohio State. The Vikings went 6-4 last year and are led by running back and defensive back Jarrell Jones, who has verbally committed to Miami University.

Northland should have more depth than in past seasons on its offensive line. The Warriors have eight returning starters on defense, led by senior linebacker Shawn Jackson.

On the other side of the ball, Eastmoor's offensive line is anchored by 6-foot-2, 305-pound junior Jabari Howard. Northland seniors Greg Williams (6-0, 210) and Kevin Groce (6-0, 205) are returnees who should split time between linebacker and defensive end.

"I'd say up front, because of their size and physicality, they'll test us," Vikings coach Kevin Tooson said.

Beechcroft returns few experienced players and suffered an additional blow when senior Chays Davis-White went down with a knee injury that has him out indefinitely. He was expected to be a key player at running back and linebacker.

The Cougars are led by senior quarterback Sheldon Akin and senior running back Dai'Ron Glover.

Independence, which has a new coach in Maurice Douglas, has had a strong running game for years and is expected to be led offensively by running backs Leland Sans and Jajuan Ross.

Whetstone and Briggs are in much different situations than a year ago, when an inexperienced Braves team edged a Bruins team boosted by transfers 14-7 in the opener. Whetstone returns 16 starters.

While the Braves return senior quarterback Quentin Wright and senior running back Jordan Mitchell, the Bruins have five returning offensive starters, including junior quarterback Isiah Campbell.

"They have a very good power running attack, so first down is going to be critical for us because we want to try and get them into long second downs," Whetstone coach Jim Worden said.