The WarEagle Trophy has made a home at Big Walnut High School. The Golden Eagles own a 6-0 series lead against the Westerville Central football team, and the trophy is considered one of the spoils of victory.

The WarEagle Trophy has made a home at Big Walnut High School. The Golden Eagles own a 6-0 series lead against the Westerville Central football team, and the trophy is considered one of the spoils of victory.

That could change with both teams sporting new coaches when they face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Central.

"It's a new rivalry," said Joe Weaver, Big Walnut's first-year head coach. "We haven't been playing for that long, but with them being right down the road, it's hard not to establish that rivalry."

Under former coach Scott Wetzel, the Golden Eagles won the Division III state championship in 2007 and lost to eventual state champion Aurora 20-14 in a state semifinal last season.

"We want to keep everything rolling and keep the kids on the same page that they've been on," said Weaver, who was an assistant coach nine of the past 10 seasons and the defensive coordinator the past three years.

Last season, Big Walnut was 11-3 overall and captured its third consecutive OCC-Capital title, finishing 6-0. The Golden Eagles also crushed Central 31-2 in the rivalry game.

But this isn't the same War-hawks team. Veteran coach John Magistro has taken over at Central.

"They're a team that has won a Division III championship and they were in the final four last year," Magistro said of Big Walnut. "I can't imagine them changing a whole lot. I'm sure they have some added wrinkles, but we'll just get prepared for that."

The Golden Eagles still use a pro-set offense and a 3-4 defense.

Senior quarterback Johnny Cannell (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) completed 72 of 131 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Senior fullback Buddy Carrel (5-8, 170) led the team with 661 yards on 141 carries and scored seven touchdowns.

Other threats include senior running back Cody Leitner (5-10, 160) and senior wide receiver Bret Myers (6-0, 155).

Senior offensive tackle Skyler Schofner (6-7, 276), a transfer from Johnstown, should help anchor the line. He has already received several offers from Division I schools.

"They are just so sound," Magistro said. "They don't do a lot to trick you or confuse you. They hit the hole fast, they have good blocking schemes and then if you try to play the run too much they're definitely capable of throwing the ball."

The Warhawks are coming off a winless season under coach Bob Fresch.

Magistro, who enjoyed success at Division IV Bellaire before joining the Olentangy football coaching staff three years ago, hopes to revitalize the Central program.

"If you win your first game you get confidence and I would like to think we're going in with the idea that we can win, but we should be smart enough to know that our season isn't based on one game," Magistro said. "We have plenty more to play. We're still in a learning process. They're still adapting to the system that I've put in here, so we'll see."

Magistro uses a diverse offense, which includes spread and "I" formation schemes.

Senior Kyle Stephenson (6-1, 175) is back at quarterback with a wide-open race for playing time in the backfield.

However, senior TaQwaun Council (6-0, 210) is considered an early favorite among the running backs.

When Central goes to its spread offense, watch for Luke Meisner (6-0, 170) and Demetrius McLaughlin (5-9, 175).

"If we win our first game, that should get our confidence up really high," McLaughlin said. "We'll play hard every game if we win our first game. If not, then we'll keep coming out hard."

Opener

BIG WALNUT at WESTERVILLE CENTRAL

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, Big Walnut 31-2

•Top Golden Eagles: Johnny Cannell, Buddy Carrel, Pete Isbell, Cody Leitner, Bret Myers and Skyler Schofner

•Of note: The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series 6-0.