Northridge High School football coach Tim Priest hopes to find out the character of his team in their second consecutive road game against a MSL-Ohio Division team.

Northridge High School football coach Tim Priest hopes to find out the character of his team in their second consecutive road game against a MSL-Ohio Division team.

The Vikings opened last Friday at Columbus Academy and play Friday at Bexley.

"The first couple of weeks of the season are the most important, especially with a young football team like we have," Priest said. "We only have three seniors with varsity experience and a lot of the juniors don't have any varsity experience."

The Vikings return three starters on offense, senior fullback Kolt McDaniel (5-foot-11, 225 pounds), senior center E.J. Snyder (6-2, 215) and sophomore quarterback Brandon Hull. Junior tackle Jake Harger would have started last season, but the 6-3, 295-pounder was sidelined with knee problems.

Two players return on the Vikings' defense, McDaniel at linebacker and senior safety Luke Schnars.

"The time between the first and second weeks will give them a chance to catch up to game speed," Priest said. "I know they played in scrimmages, but the speed in a game is a lot different than that. That's something you have to experience."

Priest knows facing the Lions will be a tall order, especially with third-year coach John Smith.

"We know that they will be a pretty good team, and they should be very well-coached because coach Smith was a player at Mount Union and a graduate assistant with me at Otterbein before going back to coach at Mount Union," Priest said. "He's been around successful programs and I'm sure he'll do well there."

Smith led Bexley to its first playoff berth in program history last year when the Lions fell to Logan Elm 21-14 in a first-round Division III game.

"It's really a big transition (between the first two games) because 50 percent of teams go into week 2 with win and 50 percent go in with loss," said Smith, who won a national title at Mount Union as a player in 1993 and another as an assistant coach in 1997. "It's really a big transition if you go in with a loss. (In the opener against Canal Winchester last Friday,) we're looking to come out and control the things that are in our control. Whether we win or lose, we have to play smart and together."

The Lions have senior Adam Leeds taking over at quarterback for 2009 graduate Seth White, who rushed for 1,430 yards and 24 touchdowns and completed 100 of 186 passes for 1,249 yards and five touchdowns in nine games. Leeds (5-11, 180) stepped in at quarterback when White was suspended two games for a violation of team rules.

Danny Webb (6-2, 240) moves to left tackle after being a second-team all-league selection on the right side. Defensively, junior linebackers Tommy Zervas (6-1, 205; second-team all-league) and Josh Lake (5-11, 190; 65 tackles) are key returnees.

"They're a Division III school with 70-80 kids out for football and they have had decent success the last 10 years or so," Priest said. "We know they'll be a tough team."

Smith is unsure what to expect from Northridge but expected a good gauge by the opener last Friday against Academy.

"I'll know more about them from the first game and that will give us more of an understanding about who they are and what they are doing," Smith said. "We know what Academy has and we know what Academy can do, and that will be a bit of a measuring stick for us."