Canal Winchester High School football coach Shawn Hinkle said his defense must be wary of the passing ability of Dublin Scioto senior quarterback Evan DeMars when the teams meet Friday, Aug. 24, at Canal Winchester.

Canal Winchester High School football coach Shawn Hinkle said his defense must be wary of the passing ability of Dublin Scioto senior quarterback Evan DeMars when the teams meet Friday, Aug. 24, at Canal Winchester.

The contest is the season opener for both teams. Canal Winchester finished 7-3 last season and Scioto went 2-8.

DeMars completed 155 of 276 passes for 1,895 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season and his top receiver, senior Tim Shadoan, also returns after catching 39 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite Scioto's passing game, Hinkle said his defense's top priority will be slowing down the Irish's running game, which is led by Will Houston, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound senior and three-year starter who rushed for 864 yards and 15 touchdowns on 215 carries last season.

The Indians' 3-5 defense features five returning starters, including senior lineman Deontaye Cosby and senior linebacker Nick Toledo.

Last season, Cosby had 78 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks and Toledo had 57 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and four sacks.

"Dublin Scioto has a real nice quarterback who makes good decisions and has a very accurate delivery," Hinkle said. "But we have to stop the run first, because if they can get their big back established on the inside, they have some speedy guys who can hurt us on the outside, and it will set up their passing game, too."

With five returning starters on its offensive line, Canal Winchester's spread offense will attempt to overpower Scioto's 4-4 defense with its running game.

The Indians have two experienced running backs in seniors John Franklin and Jaquan Ransome.

Last season, Ransome rushed for 557 yards and six touchdowns on 73 carries and Franklin ran for 358 yards and three touchdowns on 73 carries.

Scioto coach Karl Johnson expects a much-improved defense after Scioto allowed 30.8 points per game last season.

The Irish have three returning starters on defense in senior tackle Mason Sawicki, senior safety Shawn Snow and junior safety Jack Flood. Sawicki led the team with 79 tackles and six sacks last season.

"Dublin Scioto's defense relies on their quickness, and if we can control the line of scrimmage, that will open up a lot of possibilities for both our running game and passing game," Hinkle said.