The Hilliard Davidson and Westerville South high school football teams will kick off the season at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Football Series at Ohio State.

The Hilliard Davidson and Westerville South high school football teams will kick off the season at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Kirk Herbstreit Varsity Football Series at Ohio State.

Davidson still utilizes a power running game with its option offense, while South hopes its impressive speed produces success.

South's chances took a hit during the preseason when starting quarterback Jonathon Jennings was lost for six-to-eight weeks when he broke his clavicle during a scrimmage against Olentangy Orange.

Jennings started the final two games last season in place of injured Cortez Fleming and was expected to lead South's spread offense.

South coach Rocky Pentello noted that senior receiver Tevin Favor and sophomore Evan Lese are battling for the open position. Favor was South's j.v. quarterback in 2007, but moved to receiver last season. Lese, a transfer from DeSales, has never started a high school game at quarterback.

The injury bug took a large bite out of South. Starting outside linebacker Drake Wakefield is gone for four-to-six weeks after breaking his arm during the preseason.

"That is going to hurt us," Pentello said. "Playing a team of the quality of Hilliard Davidson without those two will be tough."

Despite Jennings' absence, Davidson coach Brian White feels South remains a dangerous team that his 50 defense hopes to contain.

"No matter who's playing quarterback, they still have great athletes and when you have those great athletes you can get them in space and they can make things happen," White said. "There's no substitute for speed and I know Rocky well enough that he will find a way to get those great athletes in space and give them an opportunity to use their speed, so that's obviously a great concern."

Senior receivers Ryan Barber (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) and Jack Tomlinson (5-9, 165) combined for 75 catches and more than 800 yards receiving last season, giving Jennings' replacement two solid weapons in the potent spread offense.

"For us to win this game our playmakers have to step up," Barber said. "We have to limit our mistakes and play disciplined. That's the biggest thing. They're a very disciplined team. They capitalize on mistakes."

Davidson senior linebacker Justin Schick (5-11, 189) will look to help contain the South attack.

"We've been hearing a lot about Westerville South," Schick said. "They have a lot of good guys. We've been working hard to prepare for them and do our best against them. We heard they are really fast, so we're going to try to keep them down."

Led by senior middle linebacker Jamar Williams (6-1, 220), South's defense returns nine starters.

"Rocky has made the comment to a few people that this defense is as good as any defense he's ever had there," White said. "Westerville South is known for its defense. Obviously, we rely more on ball control and a steady flow for our offense and their defense relies on making big plays and creating turnovers, so we have great concern about their defense."

Pentello realizes Davidson's punishing ground attack, led by senior quarterback Jake Trubiano (5-11, 177) and senior running back Spencer Delande (5-10, 190), will test his 4-3 blitzing defense.

Davidson downed South 35-0 in the opener last season.

After losing its first three non-conference games, South finished 5-5 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal. It tied for a share of the title with Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Liberty.

Opener

SOUTH vs. HILLIARD DAVIDSON

•When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

•Where: Ohio Stadium

•Last meeting: 2008, Davidson 35-0

•Top Davidson Wildcats: Ben Coles, Spencer Delande, Keith Heitzman, Phil Huff, Anthony Minturn, Justin Schick and Jake Trubiano

Season Preview

To read the season previews for all area prep football teams, pick up a copy of the Friday Night Live '09 Central Ohio High School Football Preview, presented by Grange Insurance. The 112-page guide is now available at the following sites:

Nearby Grange Insurance offices:

•Associated Insurance Agencies, 63 Commerce Park Dr., Westerville

Nearby Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurants:

•8861 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center

The stories also are available at ThisWeekSports.com