The Granville High School football team will still play Johnstown on turf in the teams opener, but the game was moved to Saturday and will be played on the newly-installed turf at Licking Valley.

The Granville High School football team will still play Johnstown on turf in the teams opener, but the game was moved to Saturday and will be played on the newly-installed turf at Licking Valley.

The field at Frank H. Chambers Stadium had drainage problems and the turf was removed for repair. The turf company, GeoSurfaces, and the Johnstown-based charitable Chambers Foundation, have not come to agreement on payment for the installation.

With the game kicking off at Licking Valley, the contest will likely have a playoff-like vibe considering the neutral site as well as the length of the rivalry (starting in 1915) and the close proximity between the schools.

The Johnnies returned their entire offensive line from last season when they finished 5-5 overall. The offensive front includes three-year starting senior Ben Schmidt (6-foot-1, 260 pounds) at left tackle and classmate Brandon Hollis (6-3, 250) on the right side. The guards are junior David Jackson (6-1, 235) and sophomore Tim Sayer (6-2, 200). Senior Blake Ashbrook (6-1, 215) is the center and Taylor Atwood (6-3, 215) is back tight end.

The front will open holes for three first-year starters in the backfield junior quarterback Matt Smith (6-1, 180), senior Garrett Jackson (5-9, 170) and junior Ross Franklin (5-11, 190) at running back.
The Blue Aces finished 9-2 overall a year ago, went 6-1 to earn a share of its first MSL-Ohio title and advanced to the Division III playoffs for a third consecutive season. But several key figures are gone from that team.

Key performers for Granville include senior defensive back senior Ty Compton (5-10, 165), senior linebackers Adam Hartness (6-2, 175) and Chris Lanham (6-3, 200) as well as senior two-way lineman Kirk Willis (6-3, 215). Senior Josh McKenzie (5-10, 165) is back as the top receiver, catching 38 passes for 822 yards.

--Scott Hennen, shennen@thisweeknews.com



*Columbus Academy at Northridge: The Vikings are guaranteed to come away with a victory Friday.

Both teams are nicknamed the Vikings.

Academy has most of its offensive firepower back from a team that finished 8-2 overall and tied Granville for first in the MSL-Ohio Division at 6-1. But the team finished ninth in the Division IV, Region 20 computer ratings and missed the postseason by one spot.

Senior quarterback Josh Hill (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is back after going 59-for-121 passing for 1,071 yards and 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Senior Preston Pearson (5-11, 190) rushed for 1,010 yards on 104 carries with 16 touchdowns and is joined in the backfield by senior Austin Peterman (5-11, 185), who ran for 985 yards on 109 carries with 14 touchdowns.

Also back are three of Hills top targets in senior wide receiver Mitchell Slutsky (5-11, 180), junior wide receiver R.J. Watters (5-10, 185) and junior tight end Zach Ratcliff (6-4, 225).

Northridge finished 1-9 overall. It returns six starters on in its wing-T offense. Senior Tony Stanley, a 5-11, 165-pound tailback, finished with just less than 1,000 yards rushing. Also back is two-way senior tackle Jake Harger (6-3, 290), junior tackle Ian Van Kirk, guard Tim Sullivan, tight end Tony Rios (6-5, 235) and slotback Josh Harbaugh.

Sophomore Storm Stout (5-6, 145) takes over at quarterback for two-year starter Brandon Hull.

The 4-4 defense has four starters returning in Harger (T) and Sullivan (LB), as well as sophomores Alex Blake (LB) and Thomas Williams (LB).

--Scott Hennen, shennen@thisweeknews.com



*Amanda-Clearcreek at Hartley: Both are playoff-caliber teams. Unfortunately, they appear headed in opposite directions.

Former Amanda-Clearcreek coach Ron Hinton, who led the Aces to two state titles, 16 playoff appearances and eight regional titles, left to become the coach at Chillicothe. Defensive line coach Dale Olney was promoted in his place.

The Aces are coming off an 11-1 season, but return just six starters and lost all their playmakers. Quarterback Jarrad Bennett and wide receiver Clayton Smith lead a run-heavy offense that emphasizes long drives and lots of possession. Defensive linemen Jordan Doone, Jake Genders and Kyle Klinger lead a swarming defense.

Hartley returns several starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Austin Underwood, running back Noah Key, defensive back Omar Lane, linebacker Alex Heinmiller, linebacker Drake Jones, defensive lineman Evan Jackson and defensive lineman Joey Moore.

The experience is on Hartleys side. The Hawks look to keep Bennett contained, forcing the Aces to be one-dimensional. Offensively, look for Hartley to get the ball to Key and fullback Jarrod Zang often to try to exploit a young Amanda-Clearcreek defense.

--Cory Steger, sports@thisweeknews.com



*Grandview at Utica: The Bobcats have lost three consecutive season openers against Utica. But with a new season, Grandview features a different look for Friday.

Grandview returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense under fourth-year coach Jason Peters. Among the 19 returning starters, the Bobcats have four offensive linemen back, their starting quarterback, Oliver Rouch, and their entire starting secondary. The table is set for successful season.

The first hurdle is a talented Utica team and Grandview has lost five consecutive openers. The last time the Bobcats started a season 1-0 was in 2004 when they defeated Centennial 39-0. Since then, Grandview lost twice to New Albany and three times to Utica.

Last season against the Redskins, Rouch connected with Alex Minnillo for a 32-yard fourth quarter touchdown pass to force overtime where Utica won 20-14.

Utica also returns its fair share of talent, led by four-year starter Josh Hoar at quarterback, and his top target, Scott Cline. Last season, Hoar was 113-for-220 passing for 1,878 yards and Cline had 40 receptions for 894 yards.
--Don Delco, ddelco@thisweeknews.com



*Marysville at Marion Harding: For the fifth consecutive season opener, Marysville will play Marion Harding on Friday. Regardless of where the game has been played, the last three meetings have heavily favored the Monarchs.

In 2006, Harding won 17-14 followed by Marysvilles 24-21 victory in 2005. Since then, it has been a one-sided affair with the Monarchs winning the last three games. Last season, Marysville beat Harding 39-6. The Presidents were 4-6 overall for their third consecutive losing season.

Harding has seven wins in three seasons and the Presidents have not reached the Division I playoffs since 2003, when they lost in the first round to Dublin Coffman 31-22.

Hardings 50-player roster features 15 seniors led by Tyler Haas (WR/DB) Gene Rucker (DE/TE) and Casey Slane (OL/DL). The Presidents returns their starting quarterback in Aaron Gabriel.

Marysvilles defense has had success against Hardings offense. In the last three games against Harding, the Monarchs defense allowed 12 points. Senior Dylan Dearwester is back at linebacker and Marysville coach Jeff Gafford tweaked his defense for more speed.

"The question is as a group can you run," Gafford said. "I think as a group our defense can run."

--Don Delco, ddelco@thisweeknews.com



*Ready at Franklin Heights: The Falcons return to the field for the first time since Oct. 24, 2008, against one of the few opponents on their schedule which shouldnt have a huge advantage in terms of bulk.

Ready coach Larry Wolf believes his team has one of its fastest rosters since he took over 13 seasons ago, but it will be undersized most weeks.

Both teams have several linemen on both sides of the ball who weight 200 pounds or less when they meet Friday at Franklin Heights.

Ready has a new quarterback in junior Bo Hardy and is expected to run a spread offense that features senior Demetrius Clark at running back and senior Nick Frye at slot receiver. Senior Christian Knapper was expected to also be a key player on offense, but could be done for the season after suffering a preseason injury.

Franklin Heights has six players with previous varsity experience, including senior quarterback Emmanuel Jones (6-2, 175), who started at that position for the Falcons two years ago. Franklin Heights is expected to run the option offense after using a spread two seasons ago when it finished 5-5.

Ready beat the Falcons 47-0 in week one of the 2008 season.

--Jarrod Ulrey, julrey@thisweeknews.com



*Central Crossing at Mifflin: Both programs are seeking fresh starts Friday.
After a one-year hiatus, which was forced upon Central Crossing because of a levy failure, Comets coach Chris Harr has instituted several new traditions aimed at bringing pride to the program.

The Comets were 1-9 in 2008. In seven seasons, they havent won more than three games in a year. With very little in terms of varsity experience, the Comets are looking to start 1-0 for the first time.

Jordan Keaton, who plays quarterback and defensive back, is one starter with varsity experience. He played cornerback for Grove City Christian last season. Tori Clark (WR) and Jason Coakley (DB) also lead Central Crossings on-field effort.

Mifflin was 2-8 last year and hasnt won more than two games since finishing 5-5 in 2006. But there is some excitement in the Punchers program with new coach Gregg Miller, who spent 17 years building Brookhaven into one of the areas best before stepping down in 2002. The Bearcats won 10 City championships and made seven playoff appearances under Miller.

Most recently, Miller was the offensive coordinator for a Walnut Ridge team that averaged 23 points per game last season and made the playoffs. The Punchers return their top receiver in Troy Robinson and quarterback Jacques Dorsey-Merrion.

--Jeremy Stewart, jstewart@thisweeknews.com



*Grove City Christian at Danville: A new era in Eagles football will begin Friday.

Kerry Owens, who previously served as defensive coordinator, will make his debut as head coach of the Eagles.

"What we expect from our kids is their best," Owens said. "If its good enough to win then well win, but we have to have their best win or lose."

Last season, Grove City Christian defeated Danville 24-14. Under coach Clyde Lucas, the Eagles won a Division VI regional title and finished 12-2 overall.

The Blue Devils finished 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the MBC. Junior fullback Heath Buckingham, and senior wide receiver/kicker Zach Brewer lead Danville.

"Danville is always tough," Owens said. "They have tough kids. They have kids who like to play football. They play it hard. They have a great running game and they have a lot of weapons."

--Frank DiRenna, sports@thisweeknews.com



*Cleveland John Marshall at Westland: The Cougars return to action begins Friday.

Westland did not play in 2009 after voters in the South-Western City Schools rejected an operational levy, forcing the cancelation of extra curricular activities.

The Cougars were 1-9 in 2008, with their lone win coming against John Marshall 30-20. Senior quarterback Tamaine Chappel (6-foot-2, 177 pounds), who started against Westland as a sophomore, returns to lead the Lawyers.

"He is the most dangerous quarterback we will play all season," Westland coach Brian Smith said of Chappel. "He has a strong arm and is an outstanding runner in the open field."

John Marshall, which competes in the Senate Athletic League, finished 7-3 last season.

"The keys for us will be to win the physical battle up front, contain their playmakers especially their quarterback and be able to execute when tired," Smith said. "Both teams play a number of players both ways. Fatigue will be a factor."
--Frank DiRenna, sports@thisweeknews.com