The Thomas Worthington and Westerville North high school football teams can draw on their own opening-night victories as they prepare for their matchup Friday, Aug. 31, at Thomas, but both teams expect this week's opponent to be considerably different than last week's.

The Cardinals run a spread offense with little, if any, resemblance to the wing-T offense North saw in a 10-7 win over Groveport on Aug. 24. And while North's spread offense is similar to the one Thomas faced that same night in a 31-24 win over Canal Winchester, the Warriors play a more traditional zone coverage on defense as opposed to the Indians' man-to-man schemes.

"Looking at (North), they remind me a little bit of what we were last year," said second-year Cardinals coach Matt Zingery, whose team beat the Warriors 45-21 last season. "They have a new energy with a new coach (Bryan Johnson) and they're playing hard. They didn't score a lot of points, but their offense is a handful. Defensively, they're fundamentally sound and they have an impressive line."

Thomas used a 20-point second quarter to take control against Canal Winchester. Quarterback Charlie Rhoades threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and running back DiJahn Davis rushed for 161 yards and two scores, including a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the win, the Cardinals' second in as many years over the Indians.

North, meanwhile, relied on its defense to hold off Groveport. J.J. Dixon kicked a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter and running back Rondale Smith scored on a 5-yard run in the fourth before the Cruisers got within a touchdown on a 93-yard pass play with a minute to play.

The Warriors won their opener for the third consecutive year and fifth time in six seasons.

"It was a stressful last minute or so. It was tough sledding against their (defensive line), but we got it done," Johnson said. "You look at Thomas, and they're explosive. (Davis) runs smart and (Rhoades) throws the deep ball very well. They have tons of athletic wide receivers. The big key against them will be to prevent the big play. We'll get our money's worth against them, for sure."

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