For two high school football teams that had their share of heartbreaks last season, Friday represents a fresh start for Dublin Scioto and host Pickerington North.

For two high school football teams that had their share of heartbreaks last season, Friday represents a fresh start for Dublin Scioto and host Pickerington North.

Scioto rallied from a 1-4 start to win four in a row. But then Marysville beat the Irish 13-10 in a game that would've given them a share of the OCC-Cardinal Division title and a ticket to the playoffs.

North finished 5-5, but let two overtime games slip away. And all hope for a winning season was shattered when Grove City beat them 12-7 victory in week 10.

However, this is an instance where change isn't good. Both return a large group of seniors and they're all hungry.

"Our problem last year was that we just didn't finish," North senior wide receiver Eric Phillips said. "There were times when we had opportunities, but just couldn't get the ball in the end zone. Our focus this year is 'N.O.W.,' which stands for 'No Opportunities Wasted.'"

The same might be true for the Irish, but coach Karl Johnson won't have any talk about the postseason.

He believes all that talk might've consumed his team in the final weeks of the season.

Scioto has 34 seniors, the most for the program. Some lettered as juniors, but others either played special teams or junior varsity.

"That first game is so much about you," Johnson said. "It really does come down to not making any mistakes. That's how teams find a way to win in week one. We've got kids penciled in as starters, but there's a lot competition going on for Friday night playing time."

Friday marks the first meeting between the two programs and the fallout from the South-Western City Schools' levy is what brought them together.

With no sports or other activities in the district, Grove City, Westland, Central Crossing and Franklin Heights had to be erased from the OCC schedules.

The Irish were set to face Grove City and the Panthers were supposed to take on Central Crossing.

A coin toss determined home-field advantage, which forced Scioto to play its first three games on the road, including a trip to Toledo Central Catholic, the top seed in Division II, Region 7 last season, and Worthington Kilbourne in the Battle of Hard Road.

While coaches seem to always talk about winning the battles up front, it appears to be the most-talked about matchup for Friday.

The Panthers sport a beefy offensive line which includes contributions from Grove City transfers Steven Crane (6-5, 340) and Chris Fuqua (6-4, 325) and four returning starters in senior Kyle Shaeffer (6-1, 225), sophomores Luke Carothers (6-2, 240) and Pat Elflein (6-2, 240) and junior Alex Huettel (6-4, 250).

They'll be protecting returning starting quarterback Sean Flaherty (6-1, 190), a senior who threw for 1,151 yards last season with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Phillips is among a number of experienced players at the skill positions along with senior rushers Matt Ferguson (5-10, 180), Gianni Lynch (6-0, 205) and Kevin Duckworth (5-10, 160).

Scioto's defensive front is fast and physical with senior ends Grant Pleasant (6-3, 230) and Francesco Felice (5-10, 195) anchoring the line.

"Our line is really going to have to contain their defensive front and give Flaherty time to throw," Phillips said. "I think that's really going to be the key. On defense, we've got to contain their quarterback because he can hit his targets and run it as well."

Scioto senior quarterback Charlie Suich threw for 1,127 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The honorable mention all-league selection also finished as the team's leading rusher (476 yards on 144 carries and five touchdowns).

The Irish have a number of new faces at receiver and running back.

Scioto also had to replace three Division I college recruits in running back and defensive back Bradley McDougald (Kansas State), receiver and defensive back Ayodeji Olatoye (Colorado) and lineman Tyler Harrell (Iowa).