The opening weekend of high school football is far from over considering that defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central as well as perennially strong CCL program DeSales have yet to play, but there is still plenty to analyze.
Walnut Ridge opened up play for area programs with a 55-7 victory over Mifflin on Aug. 23 in a matchup of 2017 playoff teams.
DeSales travels to Huber Heights Wayne to face Dayton Dunbar, a 2017 playoff qualifier, in the Backyard Blitz at 6 p.m. Aug. 25.
Then at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 26, Central faces Chicago Phillips at Otterbein in a game televised on ESPN.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at the opening Friday of the season, which featured tight victories Aug. 24 for teams such as Reynoldsburg, Olentangy Orange, Hilliard Darby, Westerville North, Marion-Franklin, Licking Heights and Hilliard Bradley and a special night in Delaware County for a new school.
Here are five things we’ve learned (so far) from Week 1:
1. Olentangy Berlin’s first game provided memories for the new school.
With a roster that features no seniors, Berlin got things started off right with a 53-22 victory over visiting Briggs.
Johnny Spinner rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries and also recovered a fumble, and Corey Hill had two touchdown receptions and an interception.
The Bears are coached by Mark Nori, who guided Stow Munroe-Falls to the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
2. Pickerington North has the pieces in place to again be one of central Ohio’s best teams.
During a matchup against Olentangy Liberty, which has made back-to-back Division I state semifinals, North looked like a dominant force on defense behind the play of senior linebacker Ben Johnson and a unit that created three fourth-quarter turnovers.
The Panthers’ new quarterback, Mike Lowery, again should be one of the area’s best after making first-team all-district for Gahanna last season.
Liberty lost senior quarterback Mitchell Okuley to a first-quarter injury and didn’t begin finding traction on offense until the third quarter, but North’s defense continually came up with answers.
3. There were plenty of nail-biters.
Two matchups that were expected to be tight, Reynoldsburg at Upper Arlington and Darby at Olentangy, lived up to those hopes as the road team won both 17-14.
Orange made a goal-line stand on a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter against Worthington Kilbourne to hang on for a 27-26 victory.
4. Bradley also won in dramatic fashion.
Bradley hasn’t lost a regular-season game since Sept. 30, 2016, but this win — its 15th in a row — might have been its toughest.
Facing a Findlay team that went 4-6 last season, the Jaguars got a 14-yard touchdown pass from Griffin Veil in overtime to win 34-28. Veil completed 22 of 34 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns while Jack Duffner had eight catches for 183 yards and three scores to show that the Jaguars’ rebuilt offense should be formidable.
5. Thomas Worthington again wins tight battle with Canal Winchester.
After beating the Indians 27-20 in two overtimes last season, the Cardinals trailed by a touchdown but scored 20 third-quarter points on their way to a 34-21 victory.
Thomas, which went 1-29 from 2014-16, took what it hopes is its first step toward improving on last year’s 4-6 finish by beating Canal Winchester, a 2017 playoff qualifier.