In addition to the numerous assignments and responsibilities for the defensive players at Worthington Kilbourne High School, the goal for them in Friday's opener at home against Groveport is simple.

In addition to the numerous assignments and responsibilities for the defensive players at Worthington Kilbourne High School, the goal for them in Friday's opener at home against Groveport is simple.

Tackle LeVeon Bell, the Cruisers' 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior running back.

"One-on-one, I'm not sure anybody can bring him down," coach Vince Trombetti said. "Eleven on one we should be able to do that. We did it last year against Dublin Scioto with Bradley McDougald. He had 2 yards rushing against us in that game.

"I'm not saying we're holding LeVeon to 2 yards, but we got to make sure he doesn't rip off big runs against us."

Kilbourne opens its 18th season Friday with six returning starters after graduating 31 players from last year's 9-3 team. The good news for Trombetti is the Wolves' expertise is in areas that could help in slowing Bell.

Senior Jason Cunningham (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) returns at defensive end with Robbie Schram (6-4, 184) on the other side.

"Losing so many seniors, a lot of people are doubting us," Cunningham said. "We're using that as motivation."

Kilbourne wants to try and stop Bell, but Groveport has found someone to complement his rushing prowess.

Groveport coach Tim Brown turned the reigns over to freshman quarterback Shane Denney in week eight and he responded with two wins in the Cruisers' last three games. Denney (6-5, 200) turned the ball over just once in those three starts.

Groveport was 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

To make matters more difficult for Cunningham and Schram, Groveport has a senior-laden offensive line led by senior left guard Kwan Bailey and junior left tackle Anthony Pruitt, a move-in from Mifflin.

"Last year, they had concerns as they were young on their line," Trombetti said. "Those guys are back so you're going to see experience go up against experience."

Among the 31 players Kilbourne graduated was three-year starter and first-team all-district quarterback Aaron Kingcade. Senior Nathan Sparks will make his debut under center.

"I've been running, lifting to get bigger and I've been working on my throwing," Sparks said. "I've also used camps to get better and I studied the playbook."

Despite the new quarterback, Kilbourne has not changed its offense and continue to employ the option.

"That's what they do," Brown said. "They'll run a sweep then they'll cut it up under center. Man that kills you."

Sparks does have help up front from an experienced offensive line. Brian Skura (6-7, 258) is moving from defensive tackle to offensive tackle and is joined by returning starters at the three interior positions in guards Jeff Holzaepfel (6-1, 244) and Josh Keller (6-2, 240) and center Matt Skura (6-4, 260).

Groveport employs a base 3-5 defense. Last season, the Cruisers allowed 18.3 points per game. Brown simplified his schemes so his players are doing less reading and more reacting all in an effort to provide a faster unit.

Kilbourne won last season's meeting 35-25, but Groveport had success in the air with 331 passing yards. The Wolves clinched the game in the fourth on a 40-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Patrick Russell.

"Kilbourne graduated a bunch of kids," Brown said. "I'm hoping that the kids coming back aren't as good as the kids they had last year."

Opener

KILBOURNE vs. GROVEPORT

•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, Kilbourne 35-25

•Top Cruisers: Kwan Bailey, LeVeon Bell, Shane Denney and Anthony Pruitt