The Grove City Christian School and Berne Union football teams enter their MSL-Cardinal Division opener Friday, Sept. 14, coming off shutout victories.
The Eagles were dominant in a 43-0 win over Dayton Jefferson Township on Sept. 7, while Berne Union defeated Newcomerstown 6-0 that same night. Both teams are 2-1.
Berne Union has won three consecutive meetings in the series, including 41-7 last season. The Eagles' last win came in 2014 (26-13).
Last season, Berne Union finished second (5-2) and Grove City Christian was fifth (3-4) in the league behind champion Harvest Prep (7-0).
"It's going to be one of the tougher years for our league, but we're excited for it," senior quarterback Brett Baker said. "Berne Union is one of the more physical teams in our league. I know they lost a few good players (to graduation), but I'm expecting some of the younger players to step up because they showed some promising stuff last year."
Against Jefferson Township, Baker threw three touchdown passes and made two interceptions at defensive back.
Running back Christian Lautenschleger had touchdown runs of 14 and 7 yards.
"Everybody did what they were expected to do," Baker said. "We knew that we had beaten that team last year (45-6), but we couldn't underestimate them or else we wouldn't play our best."
Berne Union used a late touchdown to defeat Newcomerstown, as sophomore quarterback Zane Mirgon connected with Kolt Culbertson for a 14-yard score with 19 seconds remaining.
The game, which is at Grove City Christian, also could have postseason implications in Division VII, Region 27. The Rockets were projected to be seventh this week while the Eagles were projected to be 12th. The top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs.
"A lot of us are not as smart as we need to be right now," Baker said. "We have enough talent, enough skill, so once we get everybody to start jelling mentally and everyone on the same page, we're going to really start moving."