Columbus Academy football coach Jim Collis believes his team and Grove City Christian enter their opener in similar situations.
Both programs appear to have talented players at the skill positions, but lack depth. Academy has 34 players on its roster, and Grove City Christian has 24.
The teams will meet for the first time Friday, Aug. 30, at Academy.
"They're like us in terms of numbers and players," said Collis, whose team finished 5-5 last season. "It's going to be the team who's mentally prepared, ready to play and can execute on both sides of the ball and special teams."
The Vikings will be led by senior Charlie Watters, who replaces 2013 graduate Hart Wise at quarterback and will direct the wing-T and spread offense.
Watters also is expected to be a key member of Academy's 4-3 defense as an end, along with seniors Lee Solomon and Isaac Sheumaker at linebacker.
Also back is senior halfback Bryce Bailey, who rushed for 468 yards and 10 touchdowns on 85 carries last season.
The Eagles feature a 3-5 defense, with junior Kylar Hunt expected to anchor the line.
Senior Casey Stauffer, junior Will Whinham and sophomore Caleb Newkirk are key linebackers.
Senior quarterback Nate High will direct Grove City Christian's spread offense, which also includes pistol schemes. Last season, High completed 36 of 78 passes for 592 yards with six touchdowns and rushed for 498 yards and 10 touchdowns on 97 carries.
Junior running back Jordan Haywood led the team in rushing last season with 1,164 yards and 14 touchdowns on 170 carries.
Key wide receivers are juniors Tre Roberts and Tristan Taylor.
"Grove City Christian seems pretty solid," Collis said. "It's hard to tell and judge teams on film. We don't have any comparative scores to go off of. We're preparing like it's going to be a first game. You never know what's going to happen."
Grove City Christian went 5-5 last season and has joined a league for the first time, the MSL-Cardinal Division.
"If we could get a first win that would be just huge," first-year coach Andrew McCampbell said. "That would set our season up just really well. Going in the Mid-State League is going to get us better competition at the end, too. If we can get a win out of the gate that would really set us up real nice for the rest of the year."