Groveport Madison High School football coach Tim Brown doesn't expect his defense to completely shut down Westerville South's spread offense when the teams meet in their season opener Friday, Aug. 24, at Groveport.

Groveport Madison High School football coach Tim Brown doesn't expect his defense to completely shut down Westerville South's spread offense when the teams meet in their season opener Friday, Aug. 24, at Groveport.

Brown is merely asking his defense, which is led by senior end and University of Illinois recruit Dawuane Smoot and senior nose guard and Ohio University recruit Durrel Wood, to prevent the Wildcats from making many big plays.

The Cruisers failed to do that last season in a 47-18 loss at South, as Wildcats senior quarterback Marcus Ball was 11-for-19 passing for 159 yards and three touchdowns and senior wide receiver Garry Brown had seven receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

South finished 6-4 last season and Groveport was 3-7.

"Westerville South is explosive offensively and they have guys like Garry Brown who are athletic enough to turn a 5-yard catch into a 20-yard gain," coach Brown said. "We need to be a bend-but-don't-break defense. We can't take any risks. We need to stay technically sound and keep everything in front of us to keep their better athletes from breaking big plays on us the way they did last year."

South coach Rocky Pentello is hoping his squad can run the ball as effectively as it did last year, when 2012 graduate Daxton Cates broke loose for 229 yards and two scores on 19 carries.

Senior tailback Noah Prentiss, who rushed for 219 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries last year, is South's featured back this year.

"In the scheme we run, the pass sets up the run, and it favors us having (a prolific running back) when we execute well," Pentello said.

Groveport's spread offense will attempt to wear down South's 4-4 defense by running the ball at the Wildcats and sustaining long drives.

The Cruisers feature a fast and shifty, though inexperienced, quarterback in junior Mecca Swain and an offensive line that includes Wood (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) at guard, senior center Thomas Workman (5-11, 275) and junior tackle Cameron Oshodi (6-2, 260).

South has eight returning starters on defense, including senior safety Myles Collier.

"South likes to twist blitz and bring more guys than you can block, so we're going to rely heavily on our linemen to do a good job for us," coach Brown said. "Our quarterback is extremely quick and he'll need to make some guys miss and we'll need to need to run the ball well to move the chains against them."