Considering he last coached football seven years ago, Mike Lanza is looking forward to being back in a game situation with Grove City High School.
He isn't planning to worry, though, if the Dawgs have their ups and downs when they travel to Hilliard Darby at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 and play host to Worthington Kilbourne at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 for their scrimmages.
Lanza, who coached Whitehall from 1990-94 and Gahanna from 1995-2007, was hired at Grove City in January but wasn't able to begin leading the program right away because he retired as a teacher at Gahanna during the last school year.
"I think it's a little bit different of a mindset when you're a new coach," Lanza said. "In your first year, you're going to look at who's going to compete. When you've been there, you already know who's going to compete. There's always a learning curve because everything's new, even if the schemes are (similar). It's like learning a new language for the players."
According to Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, teams throughout Ohio are allowed to hold scrimmages Aug. 8-23. Each team is permitted to hold two scrimmages and one "jamboree game." According to the OHSAA website, a jamboree is intended to serve as a "dress rehearsal" for the coming season, with each participating school required to pay $250 into the OHSAA's catastrophic insurance fund.
The busiest scrimmage days throughout central Ohio will be Tuesday, Aug. 12, and Aug. 16, when most teams will hold their first scrimmages, and Aug. 22, when most will hold either their second scrimmage or a jamboree.
"In your first scrimmage, you're really just looking to be in a comfortable environment," New Albany coach Pat Samanich said. "We're going to see which ones of our guys are going to be physical. This year for our second scrimmage we picked up Licking Heights, which is a team in our (postseason region). We want that second scrimmage to challenge us, and we have some set goals as a staff that we want to see."
For their scrimmages this year, the Eagles will travel to Canal Winchester on Aug. 15, with Olentangy Liberty also scheduled to be in attendance, and will play Aug. 22 at Licking Heights.
Although Samanich became a head coach for the first time a year ago, he believes having his team open the scrimmage schedule against a team coached by a familiar colleague like Liberty's Steve Hale made the transition easier.
Of the scrimmages slated for Aug. 12, Dublin Scioto-Big Walnut, Johnstown-Mifflin, Marysville-Marion Harding and Pickerington North-Dublin Coffman are rematches of opening scrimmages from a year ago.
According to Brian Haffele, who is beginning his 11th season as Marion-Franklin's coach, the scrimmage season is as important as ever, particularly as things have changed throughout the City League with teams having fewer players.
The Red Devils begin the scrimmage schedule Aug. 16 by competing at Hamilton Township along with Franklin Heights and Groveport and will travel to Liberty on Aug. 22.
"My first year, we had 110 kids and now we're sitting at about 65 to 70," Haffele said. "We always used to do three scrimmages, but we've kind of gotten out of that because of numbers. We always do a four-way scrimmage because you always see a lot of different looks. I want us to play against some of the better OCC teams because it helps us get better."
Below is a list of scrimmages involving central Ohio high school football teams throughout the ThisWeek coverage area (times and dates subject to change; home team listed first):
Bexley vs. Independence (4:30 p.m.); Canton McKinley vs. Olentangy (5 p.m.); Chillicothe vs. Franklin Heights (5 p.m.); Columbus Academy vs. Utica (10 a.m.); DeSales vs. Olentangy Orange (5 p.m.); Dublin Scioto vs. Big Walnut (4 p.m.); Granville vs. Lancaster (5 p.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Mechanicsburg (5:30 p.m.); Johnstown vs. Mifflin (10 a.m.); Marysville vs. Kenton, Marion Harding and Newark (10 a.m.); Northridge vs. Danville (6 p.m.); Pickerington North vs. Dublin Coffman (4 p.m.); St. Charles vs. Harvest Prep (7 p.m.); Thornville Sheridan vs. Licking Valley (10 a.m.); Watterson vs. Dublin Jerome (9 a.m.); Westland vs. Teays Valley (5 p.m.); Wooster vs. Columbus West (11 a.m.)
Centennial vs. Worthington Christian (4 p.m.); Licking Heights vs. Bloom-Carroll (6:30 p.m.); Marion Elgin vs. Grandview (5:30 p.m.); Upper Arlington vs. Beechcroft (9 a.m.)
Central Crossing vs. Marion Harding (6 p.m.); Columbus Academy vs. Berne Union (5 p.m.); Watkins Memorial vs. Walnut Ridge (5 p.m.)
Canal Winchester vs. New Albany and Olentangy Liberty (6 p.m.); Pickerington Central vs. Toledo Whitmer (6 p.m.); Utica vs. Columbus Crusaders (6 p.m.); Zanesville Rosecrans vs. Africentric (6 p.m.)
Big Walnut vs. Licking Heights (10 a.m.); Buckeye Valley vs. Marion Elgin (10 a.m.); DeSales vs. Westerville South (10 a.m.); Dublin Jerome vs. Lancaster (10 a.m.); Eastmoor Academy vs. Hartley (7:30 p.m.); Fairbanks vs. Bexley (10 a.m.); Gahanna vs. Hilliard Bradley, Marysville and Worthington Kilbourne (9 a.m.); Granville vs. Crooksville (10 a.m.); Grove City Christian vs. Centennial (9 a.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Franklin Heights, Groveport and Marion-Franklin (10 a.m.); Hilliard Darby vs. Grove City (10 a.m.); Hilliard Davidson vs. Dublin Scioto (10 a.m.); Johnstown vs. Delaware (10 a.m.); Lakewood vs. Zanesville West Muskingum (10 a.m.); Liberty Union vs. Heath (7 p.m.); Northland vs. Columbus South (10 a.m.); Olentangy vs. Strongsville (11 a.m.); Olentangy Orange vs. Thomas Worthington (10 a.m.); Thornville Sheridan vs. Columbus West (10 a.m.); Troy vs. Reynoldsburg (10 a.m.); Upper Arlington vs. Watterson (10 a.m.); Westerville Central vs. Cincinnati Moeller (noon); Westerville North vs. Whetstone (9 a.m.); Zanesville Maysville vs. Licking Valley (10 a.m.)
Gahanna vs. Dublin Coffman (7 p.m.); Hartley vs. Marengo Highland (6:30 p.m.); Newark vs. Dresden Tri-Valley (6 p.m.); Reynoldsburg vs. Westerville Central (6 p.m.); Walnut Ridge vs. Zanesville (7 p.m.); Watkins Memorial vs. Bexley (5:30 p.m.)
Africentric vs. Fairfield Christian (6 p.m.); Berne Union vs. Northridge (7 p.m.); Buckeye Valley vs. Columbus Crusaders (7:30 p.m.); Centennial vs. Columbus West (6 p.m.); Central Crossing vs. Canal Winchester (6 p.m.); Columbus Academy vs. Centerburg (6 p.m.); Crooksville vs. Ready (7 p.m.); Delaware vs. Marion Harding (7 p.m.); DeSales vs. Hilliard Bradley (6 p.m.); Dublin Scioto vs. St. Charles (7 p.m.); Findlay vs. Hilliard Davidson (6 p.m.); Franklin Heights vs. Westland (7:30 p.m.); Grandview vs. North Robinson Colonel Crawford (7 p.m.); Grove City vs. Worthington Kilbourne (7:30 p.m.); Grove City Christian vs. Elyria Open Door Christian (7:30 p.m.); Harvest Prep vs. Columbus East and Granville (7 p.m.); Heath vs. Fairfield Union (6 p.m.); Hilliard Darby vs. Marysville (7 p.m.); Huber Heights Wayne vs. Upper Arlington (7:30 p.m.); Jonathan Alder vs. Briggs (6 p.m.); Johnstown vs. Independence (4:30 p.m.); Lancaster vs. Beechcroft (6 p.m.); Lakewood vs. Fisher Catholic (7 p.m.); Liberty Union vs. Mifflin (7 p.m.); Licking Heights vs. New Albany (6:30 p.m.); Licking Valley vs. Hamilton Township (7 p.m.); Newark Catholic vs. North Lewisburg Triad (6 p.m.); Northland vs. Groveport (7 p.m.); Olentangy vs. Eastmoor Academy (7 p.m.); Olentangy Liberty vs. Marion-Franklin (7 p.m.); Olentangy Orange vs. Watterson (7 p.m.); Pickerington Central vs. Dublin Jerome (7 p.m.); Pickerington North vs. Westerville South (7 p.m.); Teays Valley vs. Big Walnut (7 p.m.); Thomas Worthington vs. Whetstone (7 p.m.); Westerville North vs. Mount Vernon (7:15 p.m.); Whitehall vs. Utica (7 p.m.); Worthington Christian vs. Hudson Western Reserve Academy (7:30 p.m.)