Grove City is hungry for football and the feed bowls for the rabid Dawgs fans will be filled Friday night.

Grove City is hungry for football and the feed bowls for the rabid Dawgs fans will be filled Friday night.

After the fall sports season was canceled last year because of financial woes at South-Western City Schools, Grove City Stadium will once again be packed from sideline to sideline with blue-and-red adorned fans ready to release pent up frustration since their Dawgs last played in November 2008.

Fans got a test run last Friday when the Grove City High School football team played host to Worthington Kilbourne in a scrimmage, watching as the home team ran away with a 38-14 win.

On Friday, Grove City will play host to Hilliard Davidson, the defending Division I state champion, in one of several marquee games to open the season.

Other key Friday games include Marion-Franklin at Brookhaven, DeSales at Gahanna, Olentangy at Olentangy Orange, Dublin Coffman at Olentangy Liberty, Canal Winchester at St. Charles and New Albany at Licking Valley. On Saturday, Pickerington Central plays Plainfield (Ind.) at Indianapolis Warren Central and Granville will play Johnstown at Licking Valley.

Grove City's last game was Nov. 1, 2008, at Davidson in the opening round of the Division I playoffs. The Wildcats won 38-7.

"We can't control what Davidson might do or anything like that," Dawgs coach Matt Jordan said. "It might sound boring, but really we have to make sure we make strides each day as a team and as individuals. We have to really take things week by week because we have to make up for lost time."

The Dawgs overcame early problems against Kilbourne. Grove City punted on its first possession and allowed the Wolves to march methodically downfield for a score. But the home team took control of the line of scrimmage and was at the Kilbourne 18-yard line as the clock expired in the four-quarter format.

"That showed a lot of character to come back like that after (Kilbourne's) first drive," Jordan said. "We showed great improvement from the first scrimmage to the second. Now we have to do the same from the second scrimmage to the first game."

Davidson won its second state title in four seasons by defeating Cleveland Glenville 16-15 in the championship game. The Wildcats won the title with a senior-laden team, but Jordan doesn't expect his opponent to be anything but top-notch.

"Anytime you are up against Grove City, you are going to be in for a dogfight because they are one of the premier programs in central Ohio," Davidson coach Brian White said. "I really don't see them missing a beat. I see them coming into this game with much greater emotion and more incentive to show just how much that community loves its football."

•CITY SHOWDOWN — Much like NASCAR with the Daytona 500 being its season-opening event, Brookhaven and Marion-Franklin — the defending North and South Division champions of the City League — meet in the first week of the regular season.

The teams opened last year with the Bearcats rallying for a 23-21 road win, but Marion-Franklin won the rematch with a 31-24 victory in the Region 6 final at Gahanna.

Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele said the game has less to do with being a City League battle royale than it does helping the winner position itself for the postseason.

"This game is very big in terms of playoff purposes because we only have three non-league games," said Haffele, whose team finished 11-3 after losing to eventual state champion Cincinnati Winton Woods 69-35 in a state semifinal at Centerville. "We both have a very difficult non-league schedule and probably have to start 2-1 to reach the playoffs. The team that wins will have a big jump on that."

Marion-Franklin follows the Brookhaven game with games Sept. 3 at home against Dublin Scioto and Sept. 10 at Ashland. The Bearcats play Sept. 3 at Davidson and Sept. 10 at Dublin Coffman. Of the four opponents, only Scioto did not qualify for the postseason last year.

"(The non-league games) will give us an idea of where we stand," Bearcats coach Anthony Thornton said. "By the time we come out of it, either we will be in contention for a playoff spot or not. We're looking at the playoffs — getting into the big dance — and that's our focus."

•SIBLING RIVALRY — Olentangy plays at Orange after visiting Orange won 27-6 last year.

"It's a big deal for the community because a lot of the people know one another and are good friends," Braves coach Ed Terwilliger said. "It may be a social event for the fans, but it's also a really big football game for the teams. That's part of the mystique of (playing a sister school) because it is a big game for the players."

Orange coach Brian Cross know emotions will run high, not only in the opener with Olentangy, but also in the second week when his team plays at Liberty.

"Opening the season with your two sister schools is really big," Cross said. "That's two big games with two coaches who always have their teams ready to play, so you have to play your best football from the beginning just to get through that."

•POSTSEASON REGULARS — Liberty opens at home with Coffman after losing 52-0 to the Shamrocks last year in Week 1 during the Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic at Ohio Stadium.

"I think over the last three years, we have had as many playoff teams on our schedule as anyone has. In games like those, you have to come out focused and remain disciplined," said Patriots coach Steve Hale, whose team has reached the postseason the past six seasons. "We definitely have to do better than last year."

The Shamrocks have reached the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons.

"Anytime you are playing a team with a good tradition like Olentangy Liberty, you'd better be at your best," coach Mark Crabtree said. "There are no more scrimmages to firm things up and you have to be ready because all of the games count for real."



Friday Night Live High School Football Preview: The 2010 guide has previews of more than 70 area teams. The guides can be picked up at selected Grange Insurance locations and area high schools.

WEEK ONE PREVIEWS Previews of more than 30 games for the opening week are available only at our Web site.