All of a sudden, the Westerville North High School football team's game at Marion-Franklin looks a lot more intriguing.

All of a sudden, the Westerville North High School football team's game at Marion-Franklin looks a lot more intriguing.

Both are coming off impressive opening wins, though North's was less expected. The Warriors, just 1-9 a year ago, beat New Albany 34-17 last Friday, outscoring the Eagles 18-0 in the second half. Marion-Franklin, which went 9-2 a year ago and was a Division II playoff qualifier, edged Trotwood Madison 27-25 last Friday.

"I know there are some people that feel (Marion-Franklin) might be one of the best in central Ohio," coach Chad Williams said. "They've got a better line this year than in the past. They've got bigger, stronger and more aggressive offensive and defensive lines and that's paying huge dividends for them.

"Last Friday they beat a good Trotwood Madison team, which was a playoff team last year. They have great special teams. They blocked two punts and had a kick return for a touchdown in that game, so they seem to be hitting on all cylinders right now."

"Westerville North, they're a very good team this year," Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele added. "Coach Williams has done a great job coaching them. They execute well and they really impressed me when I saw them on film."

This game might hinge on the play of the offensive and defensive lines. A large part of the reason the Warriors got past New Albany was that the line opened a lot of holes and created a lot of space that allowed running back Justin Brewton to rush for 143 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Chris McCluney to gain 112 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

The Warriors also held New Albany to 22 rushing yards.

The Red Devils feature one of the biggest lines in the area as Matt Williams, Nick Strickland, Nate Strickland, Aaron Shelton and Jay Dingess have an average weight of 300 pounds.

"I think that every game you win and lose with the offensive and defensive lines," Haffele said. "We put the line as our No. 1 objective to win the game. I expect this game to be determined by the battle in the trenches. Their kids come off the ball well so it's going to be a battle."

Another key area will be special teams. The Red Devils blocked two punts and returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Trotwood Madison. Three of their four touchdowns came on special teams.

North did not fare as well with its special teams last Friday. The Warriors had two punts blocked, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and allowed a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown.

"The majority of our team meeting (last) Sunday was spent trying to correct issues on special teams," Williams said. "We'll spend a lot of time this week to fix those mistakes we made on special teams last week."

"I don't think we're going to score three special teams touchdowns again," Haffele said. "They'll get those mistakes from last week corrected. We do place a large emphasis on special teams and we feel that every Friday we can get a special teams touchdown."

Haffele knows his team can't rely on special teams to score all the points, but he is hoping that the Red Devils can break some big plays.

"We've got to play a lot better on offense in this game," he said. "I felt last Friday we did a fairly good job. We just need to make big plays. We had opportunities (last) Friday and didn't do that."

The two teams have scrimmaged each other the last few years and have some familiarity with each other, yet neither coach believes that will factor Friday.

"We scrimmaged them the last few years and we've seen a lot of their stuff, but their shotgun is newer. They even ran some empty formations, which they didn't do against us," Williams said.

"Looking at Marion-Franklin, they might be regarded as one of the best on our schedule. What (Haffele is) doing there and getting out of his players is tremendous. This is a big game for us."

North running back Justin Brewton has been named the Friday Night Live Player of the Week after rushing for 143 yards and three touchdowns against New Albany. Find out more by checking out Friday Night Live at

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Next game


•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: First meeting

•Marion-Franklin to date: Defeated Trotwood Madison 27-25

•Top Red Devils: Desmond Barnett, Jay Dingess, Tyrell Massey, Verlen Reed, Aaron Shelton, Nate Strickland, Nick Strickland and Matt Williams