Considering the relationship he has with one of the Pickerington High School Central football team's top players, Independence coach Maurice Douglas at least has a good idea of what he's going up against when the teams meet Friday, Sept. 2, at Central.

Considering the relationship he has with one of the Pickerington High School Central football team's top players, Independence coach Maurice Douglas at least has a good idea of what he's going up against when the teams meet Friday, Sept. 2, at Central.

His son, Kieren Douglas, is a senior for the Tigers and played a crucial role on defense Aug. 27 in Central's 20-14 win over Cincinnati Elder in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.

Maurice Douglas was in attendance to scout his team's next opponent, and of course, to also cheer on his son, a linebacker who has committed to play for Army.

"Our kids expect to play as hard as they can," coach Douglas said. "Kieren's very physical and I'm very proud that he's kind of a throwback in that aspect. It's kind of weird because you're kind of game-planning around your son."

The game also should be special for Independence junior Jeremiah Jackson, who attended Central as a freshman before transferring to the City League-South Division school as a sophomore.

In the 76ers' 38-24 loss to Northland on Aug. 26, Jackson ran for a 17-yard touchdown. He is expected to be one of the 76ers' key playmakers this season.

"We think he'll be one of our better kids from our junior class," coach Douglas said. "It'll be sort of a homecoming for him."

Independence lost 47-6 to the Tigers last season and must solve a Central defense that held Elder to 84 yards rushing on 35 attempts. Chance Esmont (DB) and Garon Howard (LB) each had fumble recoveries and Te' Cogar-Howard (LB) and Dalton Stefanitsis (DB) both had interceptions against the Panthers.

The Panthers had fourth-and-goal from the Central 11 with three minutes remaining, but Jalen Mitchell (DB) batted down a pass to help preserve the lead.

"The momentum of our offense transferred to our defense, and we just had a mindset of not letting in the touchdown," said junior linebacker and long snapper Grey Brancifort, who was named the Tigers' MVP by the Crosstown Showdown for his performance against Elder.

Central quarterback Darius Coker and running backs Morgan Ellison and Jermycole Graham each ran for a touchdown against Elder.

The Tigers finished with 165 yards rushing and 299 yards of offense. Tight end Trenton Gillison led the receiving corps with two catches for 65 yards.

"(Elder is) a tough team and we had some big plays where we just didn't connect," coach Jay Sharrett said. "Hopefully, we learn from this and the next time we have a guy wide open, we make a touchdown. One thing we count on is effort, and we know we're going to get it every week. If we do that, we'll usually take every game into the fourth quarter and figure it out then."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek