The last high school football team from central Ohio to officially get underway this season was defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central, which opened Aug. 26 on national TV.
The Tigers follow their 49-18 win over Chicago Phillips Academy, which was played at Otterbein and televised by ESPN, with what figures to be a much less demanding matchup in West Toronto (Ontario) Prep on Friday, Aug. 31.
Some of the area’s other expected powers, such as Pickerington North in Division I, New Albany in Division II and Hartley in Division III, don’t figure to have things as easy in their next contests.
Here are five things we expect heading into Week 2:
1. This year’s first battle among the three Hilliard programs should be a good one.
Davidson follows a 31-0 victory over Grove City on Aug. 24 by playing host to Darby, which opened Aug. 24 by beating Olentangy 17-14 after having lost to the Braves each of the past two seasons.
The Wildcats hold a 7-4 lead in the series, but the teams have split their last six meetings, with Darby winning 9-6 in overtime last year.
The Panthers rushed for 251 yards against Olentangy, led by Connor Jones (197 yards, 1 TD), while Jordan Hicks rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns to lead Davidson against Grove City.
2. The matchup between Dublin Scioto and New Albany is worthy of the attention it should grab.
There are two games Thursday, Aug. 30, including a matchup between two Division II programs in host Scioto and New Albany that should answer some questions.
New Albany, which has a new coach in Matthew Kidwell, looked sharp in a 31-7 victory over Westerville South on Aug. 24 after back-to-back Region 7 runner-up finishes.
Scioto, which is in Region 8, returns an experienced lineup after going 5-5 last season and opened with a 56-7 victory over St. Charles on Aug. 24.
3. Another game featuring Division II teams to keep an eye on is Northland at Whitehall.
Last season, Northland and Whitehall both went 7-3 during the regular season, with the Vikings beating the Rams 31-28. Whitehall was seeded fourth in the Region 7 playoffs, but Northland finished ninth to fall one spot shy of a postseason berth.
Both teams return key players at the skill positions and figure to battle for playoff spots again despite losing their openers.
On Aug. 24, Northland fell 28-27 to Zeeland (Michigan) West, which was a playoff team last season and is the equivalent of a Division III program, while Whitehall lost 19-6 to Division I Westerville Central.
4. Pickerington North and Dublin Jerome will try to build off Week 1 victories.
North opens with three opponents that made last year’s Division I playoffs, with its next test coming Friday, Aug. 31, when it plays host to Jerome.
The Panthers, who beat the Celtics 35-0 last season, have a new quarterback in Mike Lowery and are coming off a 17-0 victory over Olentangy Liberty on Aug. 24.
The Celtics, who compete in Region 2 while North is in Region 3, produced nearly 400 yards of offense in a 41-14 victory over Watterson on Aug. 24. Ezra Strickland rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
5. Hartley must face another championship-caliber opponent in trying to avoid an 0-2 start.
Coming off a 42-17 loss to perennial state power Toledo Central Catholic on Aug. 24, the Hawks play host to Wheelersburg on Friday, Aug. 31.
The Pirates, who opened Aug. 24 with a 28-6 victory over Ironton, went 15-0 last season, winning the Division V state title, and have won 36 consecutive regular-season games.
Hartley has made eight consecutive playoff appearances, including in 2014 when it lost its first two games but didn’t lose again until a Division V state semifinal.