The Reynoldsburg High School football team should face one of the quicker teams on its schedule when it plays host to Marion-Franklin on Friday, Sept. 7.
In what will be the first meeting between the programs, the Raiders will look to have a similar performance defensively to the one in their opening 17-14 victory over Upper Arlington on Aug. 24 when they held the Golden Bears to 206 yards of offense, including just 37 yards on 31 carries.
Reynoldsburg defeated Licking Heights 44-0 on Aug. 31.
Marion-Franklin opened with a 22-20 victory over Central Crossing on Aug. 24 and edged out Westland 46-44 on Aug. 31.
"This is the most athletic team we've had in four or five years," Red Devils coach Brian Haffele said.
"Probably our biggest downfall is our lack of depth on the offensive line and obviously running back. I tell the linemen that if you can make a hole, we can find someone fast to go through it. He might not go 80 (yards) like Maleek (McIntosh) could, but if he goes 10, that's all right."
McIntosh rushed for 1,349 yards and 15 touchdowns last season as Marion-Franklin went 8-3 and made the Division III, Region 11 playoffs, but the junior running back suffered a season-ending injury in July.
The Red Devils were held to 50 yards rushing on 24 carries against Central Crossing, but senior quarterback Ke'Zion Brown completed 13 of 21 passes for two touchdowns and one interception and wide receivers Deonte' Wade and Yovonne Roberts both had one touchdown catch.
Roberts also returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter as Marion-Franklin built a 22-7 lead over the Comets and held off a late rally attempt.
"Ke'Zion and I have talked, and he knows he's got to be at a 70 percent or better completion rate," Haffele said. "We've done some things to help our quarterbacks."
Seniors Dezman Cooper, Jay Amburgey, Jeremiah Burton and Ke'Shun Moorer and junior Courtland Bullard have led the Raiders' defense. Amburgey, Burton and Cooper are on the line, with Moorer at linebacker and Bullard in the secondary.
Freshman nose guard Keyshaun Slaughter also has made an immediate impact, according to Raiders coach Buddy White.
"Dez Cooper was a difference maker (against UA)," White said.
"He made a lot of great plays for us and I'm really excited for him. Ke'Shun Moorer, our middle linebacker, was very instrumental in stuffing that run, especially on the inside."
The Raiders entered their game against Licking Heights uncertain of the status of senior wide receiver and kickoff and punt returner Princeton Hoskins, who got injured against UA.
Mershawn Rice is joined by Shon Strickland, Andree' Mock and Camby Goff, among others, at wide receiver.
Junior Michael Whatley completed 56 percent of his passes, going 15-for-27 for 246 yards and two touchdowns, against UA.
"We're eight-deep at receiver," White said. "(Whatley), as a whole, did a good job as a field general getting the ball to guys he needed to. Last year, he was only at about 50 percent (health-wise) because of a hip contusion. Now he's at 100 percent and he's going to face some exotic defenses that will try to stop him."