The Watterson High School football team will be looking to begin a third consecutive season with a win over Walnut Ridge when it travels to face the Scots on Friday, Aug. 28.

The Watterson High School football team will be looking to begin a third consecutive season with a win over Walnut Ridge when it travels to face the Scots on Friday, Aug. 28.

It also will be the first chance for players such as senior Stephen Markos to show that they're ready for new roles this fall.

Markos, who was a key player at strong safety and also saw time at wide receiver and quarterback last season, is now the starting quarterback. He has taken over for 2015 graduate Sam Maglicic, who is playing for Youngstown State after finishing with more than 1,400 combined rushing and passing yards last year.

Markos passed for 155 yards and two scores in limited duty.

"It's a privilege to play for coach (Dan) Bjelac," Markos said. "I got some experience at quarterback last year, but it also helped being on the defensive side. That really gave me confidence."

Markos will lead an offense that returns four offensive linemen as well as one of the team's top rushers from last year in senior running back Michael Auddino.

Senior linebacker Malik Harrison and senior defensive back Tarik Wright lead a Walnut Ridge defense that gave up 14.9 points per game last season.

Watterson finished 2-8 last season, while the Scots bounced back from an 0-3 start to go 6-4.

"We scouted them and they'll be well-disciplined," Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox said. "They're a real hard-working team. We've lost to them the last two years and we'll have to play mistake-free. There were some mistakes we made on special teams and they made some big plays against us.

"Tarik Wright will play a major role for us. He'll play defensive end and some tight end on offense. He's a dynamic player for his size (6-foot-3, 270 pounds)."

Walnut Ridge also might have the most talented returnee in the City League in Harrison, a 6-5, 215-pounder who has been clocked at 4.4 seconds in 40 yards.

Harrison has received scholarship offers from seven power-five conference programs, including Wisconsin and Michigan State among five Big Ten offers.

Last season, Harrison rushed for 1,087 yards and 15 touchdowns and completed 74 of 146 passes with seven touchdowns while earning special mention all-district honors in Division III.

Both Watterson and Walnut Ridge have moved up one division this season.

The Eagles are now in Division III, Region 9, and the Scots are now in Division II, Region 5.

"I think we're a little taller and bigger at wideout than we were last year," Mattox said. "The main thing is getting our offensive line up to speed.

"(Watterson's) definitely a huge game. We started out 0-1 last year. You try to take care of the non-league (games) the best you can, and it's tough because we know (Watterson is) going to be well-coached."

Field hockey team aiming for state title

The field hockey team has returned nine starters from last season, when it finished 15-4-1 overall and captured a district championship.

Back to lead the Eagles are seniors Emily Gammon (defender), Lily Kreber (midfielder), Shannon Maloney (attacker), Abby Marshall (midfielder), Olivia Pardi (defender), Leah Paskell (midfielder), Anna Rabold (midfielder) and Grace Thomas (attacker) and sophomore defender Fran Passen.

Marshall is a Miami University recruit.

Also back are seniors Madison Marshall (defender) and Jenna Warner (defender) and junior attacker Claire Sweeney.

Completing the roster are senior Kristen Shawgo (defender), juniors Anna France (midfielder), Ellen Geyer (attacker), Brenna Kenney (defender), Giovanna Paradiso (defender), Meredith Racher (midfielder), Laura Schmeling (attacker) and Mary Schons (attacker) and sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Golonka.

"This team has 11 seniors that are very experienced," 19th-year coach Janet Baird said.

"I think our midfield line will be really strong and we have some speed up front on attack. Those two things are going to have to help us against teams that have strong defenses and good goalkeeping."

The Eagles opened Aug. 26 against at Hartley in a Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division game.

Last year, Watterson finished second (6-1-1) in the COFHL-East behind Columbus Academy (8-0) and defeated Olentangy Liberty 1-0 in a district final before losing to Academy 1-0 in a state semifinal.

"I don't think this team is going to be satisfied with anything short of a state championship," Baird said. "They had a great run last year as juniors and fell short in the semifinal game. They have a strong desire to leave the legacy of a championship behind."

The Eagles' last state championship came in 2009. They also won titles in 2005 and 1995.