A lot has changed for the Westerville North High School football team since last season.

A lot has changed for the Westerville North High School football team since last season.

The Warriors have a new coach and new starters as well as new offensive and defensive schemes.

Following a season in which the Warriors were 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, former coach Chad Williams was let go. Williams, who went 24-40 at North, was replaced by Mike Owens, who spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator at Hilliard Darby.

In 2006, Owens led Mechanicsburg to an 11-2 record, a league title and a Division IV playoff appearance. He also has coaching experience at Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati Finneytown. He was an assistant from 2003-05 at Elder, where the 2003 team won the Division I state championship.

Owens' main goal at North is to change the culture of the program, which last had a winning season in 2004 when the Warriors were 6-4. That started when he was named as coach last December.

"The first thing we wanted to do was outline some type of vision for success for the program," he said. "We talked about work ethic, self-discipline and together we outlined six points for the players to shoot for, and they've done a good job with it all so far," Owens said. "They're starting to accomplish some of those things without even realizing it."

"We'd like to win an OCC championship and make the playoffs," senior quarterback Matt Schaublin said. "But we'd really like to come out and have people take us seriously after having a 1-9 season (last year) and a 2-8 season (two years ago). We can't have any more of that."

Owens brings to North the knowledge of an offense that helped Hilliard Darby to a 17-6 record the past two seasons. Last year the Warriors ran a two-back, run-oriented offense. Owens has ditched that in favor of a four-receiver spread offense that is aimed at creating space and utilizing players' speed.

Leading the offense will be Schaublin, who split time at quarterback as well as safety last year before an injury sidelined him for the final seven games.

Kenny Macauley, Bobby Matlock and Kalen King will fill three spots at receiver, with a host of younger players competing for the fourth spot.

The running backs will be Drew Hall and Randy Price.

Andrew Ziegler and Austin Weiganz are slated to start as tackles, with Mitch Cousins and Zach Yontz at guards and Kyle Bey at center.

"The way we implemented the offense and showed it to them, they really were excited about it," Owens said. "They believe the ball can be spread around well and that excites them. We have to be as balanced as we can be. But it's all for naught if we don't get it done up front, and I believe we have the guys to do that."

The defense also received a complete overhaul. After Owens and defensive coordinator Mike Kerr reviewed countless hours of video from last season, they decided to change the four- and five-man fronts used last year.

Instead, North will go with a 3-5 look that should allow the Warriors to take advantage of their speed.

"We're not very big up front and we don't have a lot of depth so that's why we made that decision," Owens said. "We do have some excellent speed on defense. Technique-wise, in terms of understanding how to get to the football, they've all picked it up very quickly."

The line will feature a five-man rotation of Bey, Cousins, Anthony Gobel, Anthony Woods and Yontz.

The linebackers will be Hall, Trent Curran, Christian Lucas, Denerol Mizelle and Ziegler. King and Matlock will be cornerbacks, with Macauley at safety. The other safety spot was still to be determined entering the team's second scrimmage.

In the OCC-Cardinal, Marys-ville, Olentangy Liberty and Westerville South appear to be the favorites. Dublin Scioto, Dublin Jerome and Olentangy also could contend and Westerville Central looks to be improved.

"It's such a balanced league and that's the thing that's scary," Owens said. "I do know those other coaches are good and it shows on film just how good and disciplined their players are."

"They probably look down on us because we haven't had a good football team in a while," Macauley said. "But I think we have a good team this year."

Owens knows he faces a challenge in turning North back into a winning program. He also realizes it could take the team time to adjust to the new schemes.

"We're going to find out what we're really made when we play New Albany (in the season-opener Aug. 28)," Owens said. "I know New Albany returns a lot of starters from last year. Our guys are learning two new systems, so that game will be a good measuring stick for our program."