I wish I could say that it seems like yesterday that the 2009 high school football season ended. If I did, I'd be lying.

I wish I could say that it seems like yesterday that the 2009 high school football season ended. If I did, I'd be lying.

It's been a long time coming ... a cold winter, a pleasant spring and a hot summer. Don't get me wrong, I like the change of seasons and the different sports that comes with them.

Maybe it's Mr. High School Sports Larry Larson rubbing off on me, but this is probably the most exciting time of the year, and nothing gets the school year off to the right start like an opening-night victory. After going 161-51 (75.9 percent) and 6-4 in Games of the Week last season, I could use a little Week 1 magic, too.

Good luck to everyone this season, but now it's time to get to the games:

Game of the Week: Hilliard Davidson at Grove City

Dawgs football returns after a one-year hiatus and as a welcome back present Grove City plays host to the defending Division I state champions, Davidson.
Davidson, which lost 19 players to graduation, may have different players but its triple-option offense, led by first-year quarterback Jimmy Curtis, but it is still one of the best executed schemes in central Ohio. As for Grove City, a hodgepodge of players who played in a smaller division last year coupled with players who took a year off comprises the team. Look for Davidson to take Grove City's raucous crowd out of it early via the run, and cruise to a road victory. Prediction: Davidson 28-7

Marion-Franklin at Brookhaven

The teams met twice last year, with the Bearcats winning the regular-season meeting 23-21 but losing the Division II, Region 7 final 31-24. There's no reason to not expect another close game between these two City League powers, which each have question marks as well as athleticism. Although the Red Devils graduated their entire offensive line, they have several key defenders as well as all of their top running backs and wide receivers back. Their overall experience might be too much for a Bearcats team which has few key players back. Prediction: Marion-Franklin 27-21

Dublin Coffman at Olentangy Liberty

The Patriots have waited a year to avenge a 52-0 beating from Coffman in last season's opener in Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic at Ohio Stadium. The Patriots have a first-year quarterback in senior Taylor Hudson. He has three returning running backs to ease his pressure. Jimmy Chickerella, Josh Richardson and Tyler Specht will look to run against a rebuilt Rocks defense that only gave up 6.5 points per game a year ago. Coffman will counter with quarterback Cole Stoudt, who threw for 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns in just over six games before a season-ending injury. Stoudt has plenty of targets including seniors Christian Heine, Connor Lucas and Patrick Moreland and juniors Clayton Vranic and Marcus Davis. This game will come down to which spread offense can find the cracks in the opposition's secondary. Expect Coffman to find more. Prediction: Coffman 35-21

Westerville Central at Big Walnut

The WarEagle Trophy will be on the line when these teams meet. The Golden Eagles have won the first seven meetings. Coach John Magistro begins his second season at Central and hopes an experienced offensive unit will improve on a 19.3 points per game scoring average from last season. Meanwhile, Big Walnut lost all 11 starters on its pro-set offense last season to graduation. Look for Central's experience and speed to play a key role in the outcome. Prediction: Central 27-21

Garfield Heights at Hilliard Darby

With eight starters back to lead his spread option offense, coach John Santagata is expecting his team to maintain possessions longer and score more points than it did while struggling to a 3-6 record a year ago. Quarterback Matt Allen and fullback Matt Cyrus should have some success running behind an experienced group of linemen, including seniors Sufyan El-Geroushi (6-2, 250), Chris Johnson (6-0, 200) and Blake Clowes (6-2, 285), and juniors Tae Bradley (6-2, 260) and David Jordan (6-0, 210). But Garfield Heights features a handful of potential college recruits in wide receivers Jeremy Graves and Lloyd Henry, linebacker Treyvon Robinson and offensive lineman Mike McQueen, who will pose matchup problems for Darby. Expect one of the Bulldogs' top-tier athletes to break a big play that makes the difference in a close game. Prediction: Garfield Heights 21-14

Olentangy at Olentangy Orange

Last year when Orange routed Olentangy 27-6 in the first meeting of the two teams, the Pioneers had an experienced offensive line as well as a team that was intact from their first season. This year both teams are more on equal footing. Olentangy might have a slight edge defensively with the return of Joshua Perry, an Ohio State signee, and several other key players who grew during a 3-7 season last year. They must control the Pioneers' experienced offensive threats Blake Joe, Daniel Watson and Brandon Schoen. Joe, who was moved to wide receiver later in the season, rushed for 100 yards and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Braves. Prediction: Orange 17-14

Pickerington Central vs. Plainfield (Ind.) at Warren Central (Ind.)

When Plainfield's I-formation offense attempts to run the ball behind a mostly-inexperienced offensive line, expect the Tigers' multiple-front blitzing defense to shut down the Quakers at the line of scrimmage. Without an effective running game, the Quakers will have a hard time completing play-action passes against a Central secondary, which features two Division I college recruits in Eilar Hardy and Tamani Carter. The Tigers feature a large and experienced offensive line that should open some big holes for running backs Tyler "Speedy" Hammond and Devone Penick. Prediction: Central 28-7

New Albany at Licking Valley

Motivation won't be a problem for either team in this opening game. The Eagles shared the OCC-Capital Division title a year ago yet were the only OCC champion not to qualify for the playoffs. The Panthers, meanwhile, failed to advance to the postseason for only the second time since 1999. The thinking here is that New Albany, which closed last season with four consecutive victories, has come further in the time since. Powered by a veteran group of linebackers, look for the Eagles to spoil the fun in the first meaningful game played on Licking Valley's new turf. Prediction: New Albany 28-6

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney at Pickerington North

Cardinal Mooney travels to North with quite a reputation. The Cardinals defeated DeSales 35-7 last November to finish 15-0 and win the school's seventh state championship. The Panthers finished 7-4 last season and qualified for the Division I playoffs for the first time in school history before losing to Pickerington Central 14-12 in the opening round.
Both teams are replacing talent at the skill positions, but Mooney's process has been reloading, while the Panthers' looks to be more of rebuilding. The Panthers have talent, but need that talent to obtain game experience. Give the edge to tradition.
Prediction: Mooney 28-14

Dublin Jerome at Reynoldsburg

In terms of participation, these programs have been headed in opposite directions the last couple of seasons. Jerome is two platoon this season and Reynoldsburg has to play a number of its players on both sides of the ball, especially along the lines. Low numbers cost the Raiders in the second half of games last year, including a 16-6 loss to Jerome in last year's opener. With an undersized line, Reynoldsburg could get worn down again in this one. The Raiders have an experienced quarterback in J.C. Gibson, but it might not be enough to overcome a Dublin Jerome defense that returns three linebackers in Connor O'Brien and Josh Vrandenburg, and Austin Duncan who were all-OCC-Cardinal Division performers last season. They should have the experience to not get fooled by Reynoldsburg's option. Jerome quarterback Ryan Gannon has a chance to take advantage of a tired defense in the second half. Prediction: Jerome 24-7

Tri-Valley at Upper Arlington

Tri-Valley coach Justin Buttermore not only said his defense isn't used to playing against a wing-T offense, but that he hasn't seen the formations that the Golden Bears employ with their wing-T. Throw in the fact that UA has two experienced running backs in Drew Karram and Ryan McSheffery, and that could spell doom for the Scotties. In addition, UA coach Mike Golden said his 3-5 defense is designed to contain an spread offense, which Tri-Valley employs. Prediction: UA 28-14

Canal Winchester at St. Charles

An inexperienced Canal Winchester defense stilling learning a new alignment will be tested early and often by a skilled St. Charles spread attack led by senior quarterback Joe Spahr and wide receiver Jourdan Wickliffe. Look for Spahr and Wickliffe to make their mark with an experienced offensive line in front of them before the Indians can settle down and close in on the host Cardinals. Prediction: St. Charles 27-21

Ready at Franklin Heights

The Silver Knights have dominated their neighbors winning the last six contests by a combined margin of 242-20. Meanwhile, the Golden Falcons are merely happy to take the field after suffering a season away from the gridiron due to a failed levy. Expect more of the same in this game as the Silver Knights roll. Prediction: Ready 40-6

Central Crossing at Mifflin

With the return of receiver Troy Robinson and quarterback Jacques Dorsey-Merrion, the Punchers should be able to exploit a young and inexperienced Comets defense. For the Comets to have any chance at their first 1-0 start in school history, quarterback Jordan Keaton must be more than efficient. Mifflin coach Gregg Miller will be making his debut wit the Punchers. It will be a successful start. Prediction: Mifflin 23-0

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at Watterson

The addition of the triple-option gives the Irish a bit of a new look on offense. Led by senior quarterback Oliver Hildebrandt, the Irish will look to surprise the Watterson defense by occasionally throwing in their new wrinkle.
Watterson earned the 21-7 victory last year, and again the Eagles' defense is looking to control the game. Led by seniors Matt Redfield and Hunter Maynard, Watterson should be able to contain the Irish offense. Prediction: Watterson 21-10

DeSales at Gahanna

The Lions look to open the season on a better note as the 2009 season began with a 38-0 loss to the Stallions.
Gahanna coach John Snoad will have the daunting task of shutting down a DeSales team that has only three losses in the last three seasons. The Stallions are experienced, returning junior running back Warren Ball and two-way lineman Chris Rock.
The Lions will rely upon quarterback Tanner Zwelling, running back Rashawn Ponder and wide receiver Julian Lowe to provide enough of an offensive threat to stay close. Prediction: DeSales 35-7

Hilliard Bradley at Dublin Scioto

Scioto is determined to get off to a better start after losing its first three games a year ago. Its experienced defensive front should help give new quarterback Andrew Weissling some time to mature. Bradley is only a second-year program, but it returns more experience than Scioto from a team that finished 2-8 last season, including top rusher Jeffie Johnson. Prediction: Scioto 28-14

Westerville North at Worthington Kilbourne

The Warriors underwent a lot of changes following a winless season, the biggest being a switch from the spread offense to a triple-option attack. This just happens to be the same offensive system Worthington Kilbourne has run since 1991. The Wolves know how to stop it. Expect the Warriors to put up a better fight than they did in most games last season, but, at least this week, the result will be the same. Prediction: Kilbourne 21-7.

Jonathan Alder at Thomas Worthington

The Pioneers' Graham Johnston is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the area and is a dual threat. However, the Cardinals' defense should be up to the task with the return of six starters. The difference should be Thomas' offense against an inexperienced Jonathan Alder defense. Prediction: Thomas 24-17