Ross Franklin knows the excitement of high school football, especially on opening night.

Ross Franklin knows the excitement of high school football, especially on opening night.

"I get goose bumps just thinking about it," said Franklin, a 6-foot, 210-pound tailback for Johnstown High School who had 2,183 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns last season. "It's kind of hard to describe the feeling with all of the fans there, the whole community, the little kids giving you high fives, just like I did when I was little."

The Johnnies open Friday, Aug. 26, at Granville and play their home opener Sept. 2 against Heath.

The opening night tradition in Johns-town features the team marching down the center aisle of Frank Chambers Memorial Stadium to the field. The cheering of family and friends - the village virtually comes to a standstill for the game - is something Franklin always will hold dear.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world to have the whole community out there supporting you and walking out there as a team, walking out there with your brothers to start the season," he said.

Opening night brings to an end an offseason of weightlifting, fundraising events, camps, conditioning and two-a-day practices, but first-year Hilliard Bradley coach Mike LoParo doesn't want his players to forget the work and dedication leading up to the season.

"Before the opener, I like to take our kids to the practice field (near the north end zone)," said LoParo, whose team opens at home against Dublin Scioto. "The dedication, the blood, sweat and tears all come together opening night. And then we like to walk onto the field from the practice field to signify the transition from that hard work into game night.

"Also, during the week, we like to have our seniors put the stripe decals on the helmets for everyone on the team. That shows how important the seniors are to every little thing we do as a team."

Newark Catholic coach Bill Franks, beginning his 10th season leading the Green Wave, said opening night never gets old.

"There is an air of excitement in the stadium and you know that you are ready to kick off fall with Friday night football," said Franks, whose team opens at home against Harvest Prep. "You have that special feeling when the lights go on and you see the young men running out of the tunnel onto the field. There's not another feeling like that."

DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said that even though his program has no special ceremonies or activities, opening night is always a highlight.

"It takes so long to get a taste of football," said Wiggins, whose team opens at home against Gahanna. "The coaches, the kids, the fans, they're all excited and it's fun for everyone involved. It takes so long to get to, we just want to get out there and play."

Brad Burchfield, who coached Hartley to last season's Division IV state championship with a 34-13 win over Chagrin Falls, said there is nothing more important than getting a routine down for his players.

"We have certain things that we do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week to prepare for the game," said Burchfield, whose team opens at Amanda-Clearcreek. "Just creating a routine is important. Starting school this week (was) good because we will be getting down the routine we will use for the rest of the season.

"Football is a unique sport because you only play one game a week. Everything we do is done so that everyone will be peaking between 7:30 and 10:30 at night."

Westerville South has won three consecutive OCC-Cardinal Division titles, but coach Rocky Pentello wants nothing more from the opening week than discipline.

"Because we have a young team, we need to see if they can do things the way we want," said Pentello, whose team opens at home against Groveport. "If they don't, then things could get nasty quickly for us. When you have a young group, you're not really sure what to expect. It's like having a teenager get their license and getting in the car with them for the first time. ... You're not sure if you want to do it."

Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said opening night caps off a hectic week.

"There are so many things to take care of in that week trying to make sure everything is done right to get the kids ready to play," said Terwilliger, whose team opens at home against Olentangy Orange. "It's really a new opening for everyone. You want to play someone good to give you a good test and we have for the past couple of years with Olentangy Orange. You just want to get out there and play because the emotional part takes care of itself."