The Hard Road hardware will be up for grabs Friday, Aug. 30, when Worthington Kilbourne plays at Dublin Scioto in the first week of the high school football season.
It marks the first time in the 19-year history of the "Battle of Hard Road" series that the teams will play in week one.
The switch was necessitated by Kilbourne's move from the OCC-Cardinal Division to the OCC-Capital. Scioto remains in the OCC-Cardinal, which added Canal Winchester to replace the Wolves.
Scioto won 24-7 last year in the regular-season finale, its third consecutive win in the series.
"This group of seniors doesn't want to make it through their careers never having their hands on the trophy. Scioto definitely has our attention," said Kilbourne coach Vince Trombetti, whose team finished 3-7 last season. "It's strange with it being the first game this year and then we have Thomas (Worthington) the second game, so we've got two huge rivals in the first two weeks. We've got to be ready to go."
The Irish finished 8-3 last season after losing to Olentangy 21-17 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs. However, Scioto lost 25 players to graduation, including quarterback Evan DeMars, who set program records for yards passing (5,658) and touchdown passes (43).
Scioto also lost receiver Tim Shadoan, who shared OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year honors after catching a program-record 81 passes for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns, and fullback William Houston, who rushed for 1,151 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Like Kilbourne, the Irish also open with back-to-back rivals, as they play at Dublin Coffman on Sept. 6.
"It doesn't get any better than this week-one Battle of Hard Road," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. "New we need to focus on the task at hand every day in practice.
"Friday will get here. We need to be ready."
Taking over at quarterback in Scioto's hurry-up, no-huddle offense is junior Nathan Densel. Darius McDonald will be the main focus as a runner and a receiver.
The defense has seven returning starters and will be led by senior linebackers Troy Zimmerman and Nick Conner.
Kilbourne also has a new quarterback in junior Griffin Dahn, as senior Keaton Reinhart has moved to receiver.
The Wolves return 22 seniors and 23 letterwinners, including six starters on each side of the ball. Slotbacks Seth Hill and Chandler Bridges and running back Justin Stoner play behind an experienced line.
Josh Happ and Taylor Wilson are expected to lead the Wolves' 4-3 defense at linebacker, with D.J. Freer (DE), Gavin Elifritz (DT), Hill (DB) and Bridges (DB) being other key players.