The Hilliard Darby High School football team will face a familiar offensive system when it opens Friday, Aug. 24, at home against Whetstone.

The Hilliard Darby High School football team will face a familiar offensive system when it opens Friday, Aug. 24, at home against Whetstone.

The fact that the Braves are expected to pass the ball on nearly every play is just another wrinkle in a spread offense that Darby coach John Santagata believes his program has gotten used to the past few years.

Whetstone has transitioned from a power running offense to a spread passing team this fall under first-year coach Don Poff and new offensive coordinator Hank Patterson, who helped Columbus West average 43 points in the same role a year ago.

"We've seen all kinds of different offenses," said Santagata, whose team beat the Braves 41-12 in the opener last season on the way to a 7-3 record. "It's a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator over there, and they throw the ball a ton. I think you have to keep the quarterback off balance. You have to determine what that offense is doing. Are they trying to go deep or more mid-range? If it's more of a quick passing game, you don't have time to necessarily get to the quarterback."

Junior Ramroth Finnegan is at quarterback for Whetstone, which had its second consecutive losing season last fall, finishing 2-8.

The Braves also have a group of players Poff expects to break out in the new offense in Darius Bester (RB), Yusef Conteh (WR) and Josh Sanders (WR).

Defensively, Whetstone gave up 33.1 points last season but features a Division I-caliber defensive lineman in Dezwan Polk.

Darby also runs a spread offense, although it isn't likely to pass as often. Senior Chase Longwell returns at quarterback after throwing for 635 yards and rushing for 610 a year ago.

Senior Caleb Day, who has verbally committed to the University of Illinois, is expected to take on a key role at running back and defensive back for the Panthers. Seniors Cameron Kohl (RB/LB) and Hayden Van Kirk (RB/LB) are others looking to contribute on both sides of the ball.

"I know Darby has some key players back," Poff said. "We're coming along. I'm a defense guy, so that's a big thing to me. I feel really good about our linebackers and I think our defensive backs are becoming a lot more adequate."