It doesn't matter to Westerville South High School football coach Kyle Stout that his team's next opponent has 11 new starters on offense and also has had to replace half of its defense from a year ago.

It doesn't matter to Westerville South High School football coach Kyle Stout that his team's next opponent has 11 new starters on offense and also has had to replace half of its defense from a year ago.

Gahanna Lincoln certainly passed the appearance test to Stout when he watched film of the Lions' 39-10 victory over Westerville Central in their opener Aug. 26.

"They're a real solid team," Stout said. "The past two years they've been to the playoffs. They've got a lot of weapons with two good running backs who can break tackles, and their quarterback is a great player. They're big up front."

While Gahanna snapped a three-game losing streak in season openers, the Wildcats are coming off a 24-15 loss to Dublin Scioto on Aug. 26.

The final score of South's game, though, might not be the best indicator of what the Lions are expecting to see when the teams meet for the third consecutive season Friday, Sept. 2, at Gahanna.

The Lions lost to South 34-17 in 2014 but won 20-13 a year ago on their way to finishing 7-4. The Wildcats went 4-6 last year.

South running back Jaelen Gill rushed for 1,553 yards a year ago and began his junior season by rushing for 150 yards, although he was held out of the end zone by the Irish.

The game will represent the second as head coach for Gahanna's Orin Sheumaker, a longtime assistant at the prep level who is filling in while coach Bruce Ward serves a two-game suspension to begin the season.

"(South has) got an outstanding running back and a couple other really good athletes," Sheumaker said.

"Our guys are going to have to be prepared.

"Our kids made plays where they needed to and finally the offense responded (against Central)."

In Gahanna's opening win, sophomore quarterback Michael Lowery completed 18 of 26 passes for 222 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in his debut with the program after transferring from Pickerington North in the offseason.

Running back Justus Harris rushed for 52 yards. Andrew Ray had six catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns, and Dominic Taylor had seven catches for 73 yards and one score.

Junior Khalil Straughter, whose father died earlier in the day Aug. 26, elected to play in the opener and made a case for being the team's No. 1 running back by rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown. He also added two catches for 44 yards and one score.

Linebacker Cael Baker had a fumble recovery and linebacker Alex Metz had an interception as the Lions scored 12 points in the third quarter and 20 in the fourth.

"Obviously we came out strong in the second half," Metz said.

The Wildcats will be looking for a cleaner game against the Lions after "penalties and turnovers killed us" against Scioto, Stout said.

Dominique Long had a 45-yard touchdown catch from Max Barber, whom Stout describes as a "shiftier type of quarterback, small but with decent speed."

Ray Gordon returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut Scioto's lead to 17-15.

"As a team we all made silly mistakes," Long said. "I made some crucial mistakes as well. We have to focus and do our assignments, focus on taking no plays off and being physical. We just need to keep our head in the game and play every play with 100 percent of our energy, effort and concentration."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek