The Pickerington High School Central football team isn't letting its guard down heading into its Week 3 matchup.
Despite entering its game against Chicago Simeon Academy on a 16-game winning streak that included capturing last year's Division III state championship, Trotwood-Madison was blown out 33-6 on Aug. 31 in its home opener.
That score, however, might reflect more about the opponent than the Rams being down after reaching at least a state semifinal in each of the past eight seasons.
"When you see Chicago Simeon, you wouldn't be shocked," said coach Jay Sharrett, whose team travels to Trotwood-Madison on Friday, Sept. 7, looking to avenge its only loss of last season. "This is a very big, well-coached team. Them and (Chicago) Wendell Phillips (Academy) play (Sept. 7) and those two have donnybrooks back and forth every year. (Trotwood-Madison's loss) shocked us, too, but we knew Simeon was a good team out of Chicago."
The Rams beat Central 28-19 last season on their way to a 15-0 record, while the Tigers finished 14-1, including winning the Division I state title.
After opening Aug. 26 with a 49-18 win over Phillips Academy at Otterbein, Central led West Toronto (Ontario) Prep 42-0 by halftime Aug. 31 on its way to a 56-6 victory.
Demeatric Crenshaw threw two touchdowns to Terry Simuel, Jamir Jackson rushed for 84 yards and two scores and Nick Mosely added three carries for 86 yards and two touchdowns to lead Central's offense, which produced 416 yards against West Toronto Prep.
The Tigers got an interception from Lorenzo Styles Jr. and held the Golden - a second-year program - to just 42 total yards.
Still, the game wasn't a pointless endeavor despite the lopsided outcome, according to Sharrett.
"We got out some of the kinks because that was a short week going from Sunday to playing again Friday," Sharrett said. "That game allowed our starters to go out and play a little football and then we got our (backups) reps in the second half."
Central's next opponent lost most of its top skill-position players to graduation, but the Rams again boast high-caliber athletes such as 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior two-way lineman Jaison Williams, senior tight Justin Stephens and junior defensive back Sammy Anderson.
Williams is an Akron commit, while Stephens and Anderson both have received Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers.
Another key player for the Rams is senior middle linebacker Tyler Wilcox, who had three interceptions last season for Huber Heights Wayne, a Division I playoff qualifier.
"Defensively, they're about as sound and stout as you can get," Sharrett said. "Offensively, there's stuff (they struggled with) that they can correct. I just hope they don't correct them all this week. They look bigger on film than they did last year."