The second chapter of a developing rivalry between the DeSales and Westerville Central high school football teams is about to be written.
The Stallions, whose roster features several players who reside in Westerville, will play host to the Warhawks on Friday, Aug. 29, in the season opener for both teams. Central won the first matchup last season, 29-7.
"Many of our kids are from Westerville or know kids from Westerville," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "They grew up together, may have played against each other or played together on different teams. It's a game that will be fun for not just the kids, but the communities, the fans and everybody involved."
Central, which opened in August 2003, is coming off a season in which it finished 10-2 and qualified for the postseason. The Warhawks beat Solon 55-7 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 playoffs before losing to Austintown Fitch 40-24 in the second round.
DeSales, which is in Division III, went 5-4 last season, falling shy of the playoffs for the second year in a row after having qualified for the postseason for 18 consecutive seasons.
The Stallions should have experience in their triple-option offense, led by running back Austin Andrews (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), who had 526 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns last season.
Josh DeLozier (5-10, 200) returns at quarterback after starting the final four games a year ago, completing 24 of 47 passes for 353 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
DeSales expects to be led on defense by Luke Melsop (6-4, 215), who will see time at linebacker and defensive end, after losing six key players to graduation.
"DeSales is impressive," Central coach John Magistro said. "They're getting it done. They look like your typical DeSales team that you've watched for years. They're back to their old offense. They're playing typical DeSales defense, a very aggressive defense. They're a very good football team."
Although Central lost several key players to graduation, Magistro believes his returnees have a chance to continue the program's success.
Nate Jackowski (6-4, 220) and Gavin Lyon (5-10, 170) competed for the starting job at quarterback during the preseason. Jackowski, a senior, is expected to get the start against the Stallions as Lyon, a junior, recovers from a hip injury.
"Nate is our guy and he looked very good in our scrimmage against (Cincinnati) Moeller (on Aug. 23)," Magistro said.
Central is looking to replace Jared Drake at quarterback. Last season, the 2014 graduate passed for 2,873 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for 745 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named first-team all-state, Offensive Player of the Year in the district and OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year.
"I don't think there's been too much of a drop off," Wiggins said. "They look good at every position. Their skill players are very good. They're fast, they're powerful, they're explosive. They have guys that can score from anywhere. The quarterback is a guy who can really throw the football on point, all over the field. He has a strong arm. They're big up front. Defensively, they have some size and some aggressive guys."
Central's most experienced player in its backfield is running back Benny Snell (5-11, 208). The junior rushed for 501 yards and eight touchdowns on 68 carries a year ago.
Junior wide receiver Cedric Frierson (6-2, 190) is expected to lead the receiving corps after catching 38 passes for 839 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Jackowski also is among the defensive leaders for the Warhawks but is expected to see limited time at linebacker.
"Nate is also one of our starting linebackers, so that makes you do things differently on defense," Magistro said. "We survived the scrimmage (against Moeller) with it."