Unhappy with his team's effort during a preseason practice last week, Marion-Franklin High School football coach Brian Haffele voiced his displeasure to his players.

Unhappy with his team's effort during a preseason practice last week, Marion-Franklin High School football coach Brian Haffele voiced his displeasure to his players.

The Red Devils open the season Friday, Aug. 24, at Brookhaven, and Haffele let his players know that if they overlook the Bearcats, the longtime City League-North Division power will make them pay.

"We've talked a lot about the Brookhaven game," Haffele said. "They haven't beaten us since week one of 2009 and we've played them four other times since then, but Brookhaven's not used to getting beat like that in the City. We always talk about how we have to be in playoff mode because our non-league schedule is pretty rough. It's a good rivalry."

Brookhaven beat Marion-Franklin 23-21 in week one of the 2009 season but lost to the Red Devils 31-24 in a Division II, Region 7 final that season.

The Red Devils dominated Brookhaven 27-2 in the opening week in 2010. Last season, they edged the Bearcats 28-27 in their opener and 34-28 in the first round of the Region 7 playoffs.

The Bearcats' biggest task will be stopping Marion-Franklin's offense, which is led by seniors Corry Benson (QB), Jaron Dukes (WR) and Damon Dillard (OL).

Benson is preparing for his third season as a starter after helping the Red Devils to a regional semifinal in 2010 and a state semifinal last fall. Dukes has verbally committed to the University of Michigan and Dillard (6-foot-4, 350 pounds) made first-team all-state last season along with Benson.

Senior safety Casey Gayle, who is the top returnee on defense for Brookhaven, is looking forward to the challenge of slowing down a quarterback who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,200 last season.

"I love playing good teams," Gayle said. "We're real excited about that game. I just know that you've got to read your keys and do what your coaches tell you to do."

Brookhaven is attempting to rebuild its offense after losing 2012 graduate Tajuan Green (QB), who is playing for Ohio Dominican.

Senior Kevin Greenhow is now at quarterback, with senior Blake McEwen expected to be the featured running back.

"They're very athletic, and their running back is going to have a good year," Haffele said. "They've moved Greenhow to quarterback, and he's just a freak of an athlete. This game is going to be won up front."

Last season, Brookhaven finished second in the City-North at 6-1, behind Beechcroft (7-0) and ahead of Mifflin (5-2), Northland (4-3), Linden-McKinley (3-4), Whetstone (2-5), Centennial (1-6) and Columbus East (0-7).

Marion-Franklin won the City-South last year at 7-0, finishing ahead of Eastmoor Academy (6-1), Walnut Ridge (5-2), Columbus West (4-3), Independence (3-4), Briggs (2-5), Africentric (1-6) and Columbus South (0-7).

Northland set for Eastmoor rematch

Northland plays host to Eastmoor on Friday, Aug. 24, marking the third consecutive season in which the teams have met in the opening week.

The Vikings won 25-19 in overtime in 2010 and Eastmoor won 32-13 last season.

Both teams will have new looks on both sides of the ball.

Eastmoor returns five starters on both offense and defense, with senior Devon Edwards (TE/DL) among the top returnees. Senior David Barrow, who was a starter last year in the secondary, has taken over at quarterback.

The Warriors' strongest area could be their offensive line, where seniors Christian Marshall (6-4, 284) and Donzel Watkins (6-0, 305) and sophomore Jaylen Smith (6-1, 242) are returning starters.

Northland's top returnees are senior Azariah Turner (OL/DL) and junior Brandon Williams (TE/LB).

Senior Robert Darnell (WR) and juniors Jhustus Cornley (RB/WR) and Malcolm Marshall (RB/WR) are part of the Vikings' offense that coach Kevin Tooson believes will feature athleticism.

Whetstone hoping for better opening results

Whetstone has lost its last two openers, falling to Briggs 27-21 in overtime in 2010 and 41-12 to Hilliard Darby a year ago.

The Braves would like to reverse that trend when they travel Friday, Aug. 24, for a rematch with Darby.

Last season, the loss to Darby began a six-game losing streak for Whetstone, as it finished 2-8. The Panthers went 7-3 but finished 16th in the Division I, Region 3 standings, as the top eight qualified for the playoffs.

Whetstone, which averaged just 10.2 points during its losses last season, has a new coach in Don Poff and a new offensive coordinator in Hank Patterson. The Braves have installed a spread offense centered around junior quarterback Ramroth Finnegan. Seniors Darius Bester (RB/WR), Yusef Conteh (WR) and Josh Sanders (WR) and junior Trent Harper (WR) are among the Braves' other skill position players.

"I know some of the OCC schools face a lot of passing," Poff said. "Hank and I have talked at great length about the offense and Hank is well-prepared."

Darby also runs a spread offense, although it isn't likely to pass as often. Senior Chase Longwell is back at quarterback after throwing for 635 yards and rushing for 610 yards a year ago.

Senior Caleb Day, who has verbally committed to Illinois, is expected to take on a key role at running back and defensive back for the Panthers. Other key running backs should include seniors Cameron Kohl and Hayden Van Kirk.

Beechcroft only City team not in action

Beechcroft has an opening-week bye and will play its first game Aug. 31 at home against Dublin Jerome.

The other non-league matchups between City teams on Friday, Aug. 24, are Africentric at Linden, Mifflin at Independence, West at East, Briggs at Bellville Clear Fork, Centennial at home against Grandview, Walnut Ridge at Upper Arlington and South at home against Warrensville Heights.