After the first Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic was played in Columbus Crew Stadium in 2005, the event expanded and was held in different cities throughout Ohio and Texas the following three seasons.

After the first Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic was played in Columbus Crew Stadium in 2005, the event expanded and was held in different cities throughout Ohio and Texas the following three seasons.

The Classic returned to Columbus last year, with four games held in Ohio Stadium and four others played in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The event's organizers were so impressed with the atmosphere and turnout for those games that they decided to hold four more games in Ohio Stadium this year.

On Sept. 5, Dublin Coffman and Westerville South play at noon, followed by Canton McKinley and Huber Heights Wayne at 3:30 p.m.

The following day, Cleveland Glenville faces Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) William T. Dwyer at noon, and Pickerington Central and Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Frommel Smith play at 4 p.m.

Herbstreit, an ESPN analyst who is a former Ohio State quarterback and the namesake of the event, hopes to keep the Classic in Columbus.

"That's the goal," Herbstreit said. "(Ohio State) coach (Jim) Tressel is behind it, and I was blown away last year by how well the community came out and supported, not just their team, but all of the teams from central Ohio."

The first game features two of the best teams in the area last year. Both teams are expected to be powerful again this season.

Coffman went 10-0 during the regular season to finish as the ThisWeek Super 7 poll champion and earn the top seed in the Division I Region 3 playoffs. South went 7-2, finished fourth in the Super 7 poll and earned the fourth seed in the Region 3 playoffs.

Coffman hammered Olentangy Liberty 52-0 in the Classic a year ago, but coach Mark Crabtree doesn't expect a lopsided game this year.

"Westerville South is physical, aggressive and athletic and we know we have our work cut out for us," Crabtree said. "Between our two schools, we've had 10 or 11 players go on to play in the NFL. (South coach Rocky Pentello) and I are very proud of that aspect of our teams."

Pentello's squad is thrilled to get another shot at playing in Ohio Stadium after losing to eventual state champion Hilliard Davidson 21-20 in the event a year ago.

But Pentello has mixed emotions about playing Coffman.

Crabtree and Pentello were assistant coaches under Tony Pusateri on a DeSales football team that won a Division III state title at Ohio Stadium. Pusateri, now the Coffman athletics director, led the Stallions to a 21-13 win over Orrville.

"You can't grow up 15 minutes from Ohio State and not want to play in the Horseshoe," Pentello said.

"I've coached with Mark Crabtree and I never like to play against my friends. But Kirk's put us together here and you never like to lose to your friends either because you have to eat crow the rest of the year."

The second game features a pair of Ohio State recruits who earned all-American honors last year in McKinley defensive end Steve Miller and Wayne quarterback Braxton Miller.

On Sept. 6, Glenville - the Division I state runner-up - faces defending Florida Class 4A state champion Dwyer. Glenville is led by quarterback Cardale Jones, who is being recruited by several Division I schools. Dwyer features tight end Nick O'Leary, a grandson of professional golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

The Glenville-Dwyer game will be broadcast on ESPN and the other three matchups will be televised on ESPNU.

"It's a blessing and great opportunity," Jones said. "But there's pressure because the game is on ESPN, and if you mess up, everybody's watching."

In the final game, Central clashes with Oscar Frommel Smith, which won the Virginia AAA state title in 2008.

Last year in the Classic, the Tigers beat Orange (Calif.) Lutheran 28-14 en route to finishing 10-2 and qualifying for the playoffs for the ninth time in the past 11 years.

"Getting the chance to represent the state of Ohio against great teams from the West Coast and now the East Coast gets our guys fired up," Central coach Jay Sharrett said. "People take pride in Ohio football. Even when people leave the state, they seem to stay Ohio-ans. We've received six or seven e-mails from people who have relocated to Virginia giving us updates on Oscar Smith and wishing us luck, and that's pretty neat."


•What: Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic

•Where: Ohio Stadium

•Sept. 5: Dublin Coffman vs. Westerville South, noon (ESPNU); Canton McKinley vs. Huber Heights Wayne, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

•Sept. 6: Cleveland Glenville vs. Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) William T. Dwyer, noon (ESPN); Pickerington Central vs. Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Frommel Smith, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)