Two of the City League-North Division's tri-champions last season will meet Friday, Sept. 14, when the Beechcroft High School football team plays host to Mifflin.

Both programs are trying to find their footing after losing most of their key players from last fall to graduation.

The Cougars, in addition, have a new coaching staff led by first-year head coach Charles Gibson.

After opening with a 27-10 win over Dayton Ponitz on Aug. 24, Beechcroft lost to Central Crossing 33-8 on Aug. 31 and Walnut Ridge 41-6 on Sept. 7 to fall to 1-2.

Mifflin is 0-3, with each of its losses coming to teams that are 3-0, including Harvest Prep, which beat the Punchers 52-14 on Sept. 7.

Walnut Ridge, as well as all three teams the Punchers have played, was a playoff qualifier a season ago.

"We've got a lot in front of us, and we take pride in not scheduling cupcakes at the beginning of the season," Gibson said. "We want to play the best so when it comes playoff time, we're ready to go. Playing some of these top-tier teams (gets us) ready for our league."

Mifflin scored one of its touchdowns Sept. 7 on special teams as Aman Thornton returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Also against Harvest Prep, Tavion Scales rushed for a 54-yard first-quarter score for the Punchers.

Mifflin, which lost to the Cougars 14-8 last season before winning its final five league games, has given up more than 50 points in each of its first three games.

Beechcroft fell behind 28-0 against Walnut Ridge and scored its only touchdown on an 85-yard kickoff return by Tyler Jones to open the second half.

"This team will never quit," Gibson said. "These guys fight."

Vikings break through against Blue Aces

After a 31-28 loss to Whitehall on Aug. 31, Northland football coach Brian Staats didn't sugarcoat how his team felt coming off a second consecutive loss by three or fewer points.

"They're all pretty upset, rightfully so, and they should when you go out there and play hard and fight like crazy and it doesn't go your way. You deserve to be upset," Staats said.

The Vikings responded exactly how he hoped Sept. 7 against visiting Granville -- with another strong performance.

This time, Northland ended up with a 28-21 victory over the Blue Aces -- a 2017 Division III playoff qualifier -- to take a 1-2 record into its City-North opener Friday, Sept. 14, at Centennial.

Running back John Branham Jr. rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown and quarterback Kalil Branham had two rushing touchdowns, including what turned out to be a game-winning 6-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter as the Vikings avenged a 44-26 loss to the Blue Aces last season.

Northland will look to extend its success against Centennial, which it has beaten each of the past 15 seasons, including 62-13 last fall.

Centennial defeated Africentric 47-16 on Sept. 7 to improve to 2-1 as quarterback Jaylen Gilbert completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 202 yards and three touchdowns and rushed seven times for 61 yards and one score.

Running back Luchene Davis, who rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Nubians, also is part of an experienced returning cast on offense for the Stars.

Bulldogs take 3-0 mark into league play

After going 4-6 in 2016 and 3-6 last fall, the South football team could be setting itself up for a much better final record this season.

The Bulldogs improved to 3-0 with a 40-6 victory over Linden-McKinley on Sept. 7 after posting a 28-6 victory Aug. 31 over Berne Union, which went 7-3 last season.

South, whose last winning record came in 2006 when it went 6-4, will try to snap a 16-game losing streak against Eastmoor Academy when it travels to face the Warriors in its City-South opener Friday, Sept. 14.

Eastmoor lost to Westerville Central 55-24 on Sept. 7 to fall to 2-1 after opening with wins over Franklin Heights (45-14 on Aug. 24) and St. Charles (46-15 on Aug. 31).

Against Linden, South's Daquine Petty rushed six times for 107 yards and two touchdowns and Daivion Greene-Tucker had 18 carries for 153 yards and two scores.

In other City-South openers Sept. 14, Marion-Franklin plays host to Africentric, Walnut Ridge travels to West and Independence plays host to Briggs.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek