Keeping the offense of the Granville High School football team off the field is one thing. Stopping the Blue Aces is another story altogether.

Keeping the offense of the Granville High School football team off the field is one thing. Stopping the Blue Aces is another story altogether.

Johnstown-Monroe limited visiting Granville to 14 plays in the first half to 35 of its own, but still trailed by 11 points last Friday. The Blue Aces added to that lead on the first possession of the third quarter and held off the host Johnnies for a 35-23 win in the opener for both teams.

"(The Blue Aces are) a very good team, and they did what they do well," Johnstown coach Mike Carter said. "We had some breakdowns and that is something we can work on, things we can get better at. They are some things we can fix."

The Johnnies took a 3-0 lead on a Patrick Benton 24-yard field goal on the first possession. But Granville struck with 2 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 90-yard punt return by Adam Alderman.

"We didn't have the ball a lot, but we made the most of when we had it," Granville coach Mike Hensley said. "I'm sure they wanted to run the ball like that and keep us off the field, and they did that. When you play Johnstown, you can expect them to run the ball well and try to control the clock."

Johnstown ran 54 times for 203 yards as Brad Couts led the way with 153 yards on 23 carries, including a 39-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Jay Orders added 83 yards on eight carries with a 6-yard score. Stephen Orr also added a 19-yard touchdown run.

Granville entered the game with a senior all-district quarterback-receiver tandem of Cory Becher and Alderman, but first-year starting running back Tyler Link made his presence known with 108 yards rushing on 18 carries and touchdowns of 1 and 19 yards. He also caught a 71-yard scoring pass from Becher.

"Everyone says we pass all the time, and we do pass a lot, but we got in the spread to run the ball," Hensley said. "People want us to run the ball and we wanted to show we could do that."

Becher completed 13 of 21 passes for 150 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Gino Ghiloni. Alderman battled cramps much of the second half and finished with four receptions for 36 yards. Ghiloni had four catches for 34 yards.

ROAD TEST -- The Johnnies play their first road game Friday when they travel to Heath, which they beat 41-14 last season.

"We love the backyard nature of games like this," said coach Carter, whose team will play Sept. 5 at home against Licking Heights in the third of three non-league games featuring Licking County opponents. "It's a lot of fun for our community and their community as well as for the players for both teams.

"Plus, the football in Licking County is awesome. There are some really good programs close to home and Heath is a program with a lot of tradition."

The Bulldogs, who opened last Friday against Zanesville Maysville, are coached by Mark Collier, who is in his eighth season at the school.

Heath finished 6-4 last season and expects its defense to lead the way while a young offense matures. Top returning defenders are 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior defensive end Dylan Whethey and senior safety Lucas Barrett. Whaley was second-team all-district and Barrett had four interceptions as a cornerback for district honorable mention.

Junior Daniel Combs is the other safety and the talented linebacker corps includes seniors Kyle Barrick, Cameron Ross and Josh Sayer as well as junior Tim Patterson.

"They have a defensive end (Whethey) who will be tough to contend with and they have some pretty fast defensive backs," coach Carter said. "They have a lot of good young football players and we expect a quality football game."

The Bulldogs have only five seniors on the roster and graduated seven starters from their offense, including quarterback Nick Kelley (1,036 yards passing, honorable mention all-district) and wide receiver Nick Jones (33 catches, 17.7 yards per catch, second-team all-district).

Returning in the backfield will be Ross at tailback and Barrick at fullback. Ross ran for more than 750 yards last season and Barrick added more than 500.

Sophomore Cole Benner will be at quarterback. Last year, he started when Heath beat Bexley 30-14 in the final week of the regular season.

"Last year when we played Heath, our kids really started to jell and come together as a team," coach Carter said. "They started to get things accomplished that we wanted them to get done at that point in the season, and then we kept getting better as the season went along."

Johnstown-Monroe's Colton Rosshirt tries to avoid Granville's Luke Bennett last Friday. The Johnnies lost 35-23 and will play Friday at Heath.

At a glance

NEXT GAME

JOHNSTOWN-MONROE at HEATH

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: 2007, Johnstown 41-14

Heath to date: Opened last Friday against Zanesville Maysville

Top Bulldogs: Lucas Barrett, Kyle Barrick, Cole Benner, Tim Patterson, Cameron Ross, Josh Sayer and Dylan Whethey