Despite having no returning starters on defense entering its opener against the Brookhaven High School football team a year ago, Marion-Franklin held Bearcats quarterback Kevin Greenhow to nine completions and recorded six sacks and one interception.
The host Red Devils will bring a more experienced defense into this year's meeting, which will be played Friday, Sept. 6, and might not resemble last year's 20-14 Marion-Franklin victory in terms of style.
Brookhaven has a new starter at quarterback in Bruce Foster and is expected to be led by a rushing attack featuring seniors Davonte Lewis and Devon Grant and juniors David Peoples and Anton Payne.
Marion-Franklin, which opened Aug. 30 at Upper Arlington, is led defensively by seniors Austin Dent and Devante Collins and junior Shemar Moss on the line, junior A.J. Tarvin at linebacker and senior Jhulyis Monroe in the secondary.
"Our running game is going to be our strength," Bearcats coach Trevor White said. "We've got some veteran offensive linemen back, so we're hoping to be able to move the ball."
Brookhaven opened Aug. 30 at Columbus West.
Since 2009, Marion-Franklin is 5-1 against Brookhaven, including playoff wins over the Bearcats in 2009 and 2011.
Brookhaven should be led defensively by senior linebacker Paul Hughes, senior linemen Justin Baker and Josh Glaze and senior backs Keandre Powell and Grant.
The Red Devils lost all of their key skill position players from a year ago but are led on the offensive line by Collins (6-foot-1, 330 pounds) and seniors Martesse Patterson (6-5, 295) and Ricky Jackson (6-3, 320). Patterson has numerous Division I scholarship offers.
Also playing Friday, Sept. 6, is Beechcroft, which travels to Dublin Jerome after opening Aug. 30 against Dayton Dunbar. Northland has a bye after opening Aug. 29 with a 20-18 win over host Independence.
The Vikings' Nateshawn Hardgrove scored on a 7-yard run with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left to help his team rally. Jhustus Cornley ran in a two-point conversion and recovered a fumble .
Beechcroft beat Jerome 18-10 a year ago on the way to going 8-2, while the Celtics finished 4-6.
Jerome entered its opener Aug. 30 at Dublin Coffman looking for a new go-to player after running back Donovan Wilson graduated.
Among the top returning players for the Celtics is senior defensive tackle Nate Fairand (5-8, 255), who was special mention all-district last season in Division I.
Vikings runners ready for home meet
Beechcroft and Brookhaven are among the teams expected to compete in the 37th Northland Invitational cross country meet Saturday, Sept. 7, at Woodward Park.
Others in the field should include Eastmoor Academy, Independence, Columbus International, Walnut Ridge, West, Mifflin, Marion-Franklin, Columbus South and Whetstone.
Northland should have one of the top runners in the girls race in senior Mackenzie Pahren, who finished 27th (20 minutes, 59.67 seconds) in the Division I, district 3 race last season as the top 24 individuals advanced to regional.
Also competing for the girls are seniors Monika Barton, Juana Figuero and McKenzie Thompson, juniors Aleah Holley, Rahjae Johnson, Ilieshia Long and Tiffany Noble and sophomore Nataysia Edmonds.
"(Barton, Pahren and Thompson have) been with me all four years and it's really been special seeing them grow up," coach Maureen Knotts said. "Our team (grade-point average) is a 3.7."
Junior Darius Owens is the top returnee for the Northland boys. Also competing are senior Nate Brown and sophomores Chris Asebrook, Solomon Beaufort, Isaiah Townsend and Thaddeus Young.
"We don't have that 16-minute, 17-minute type of kid, but we should be decent," coach Tom Fast said.
Beechcroft tennis team has no seniors
The Beechcroft girls tennis team was 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the City League-North Division before playing Linden-McKinley on Sept. 4.
The Cougars have a new coach in Daphne Hess, who has been the school's boys tennis coach for the past four seasons, and no seniors.
"I have a lot of inexperience," said Hess, who takes over after Larry Bromagen and Andy Merritt coached the last three seasons. "It's been a ton of fun. I think they're doing some things they haven't done before in terms of drills I'm having them do."
Junior Allexis Weaver is playing first singles and junior Karleyia Washington is at second singles.
Juniors Naajee Mix and Christine Wolff are also play singles. Juniors Malika Clifton and Jobita Masariegos are at first doubles and juniors Reagan Thomas and Katrina Search are playing second doubles.
Bearcats boys soccer team has new look
Brookhaven boys soccer coach Allen Iacobucci believes his team might have the talent to move back into City-North title contention after struggling to a 7-6-1 overall and 4-5-1 league mark last season.
Whetstone beat Walnut Ridge 2-1 for the league title last season when the City was comprised of one division, but the league has been split into North and South divisions this year.
After winning three league titles in the previous four seasons, the Bearcats underwent a coaching change early last season when Paul Hackworth was forced to step down because of health problems and Iacobucci took over.
"I have a lot of skills and a lot of talent," Iacobucci said. "My goal this year is to try to develop a team out of the skill and talent."
Brookhaven opened with a 3-2 loss to Northland on Aug. 22 and lost to International 6-1 on Aug. 27.
Top players for the Bearcats include seniors Josiah Ingram (defender), Justin Evans (defender) and Dina Tiwari (forward). Sophomore Birkash Sharma has experience at goalkeeper.