It's finally here. Opening night of the high school football season kicks off. Below are Week 1 previews of local teams:

It's finally here. Opening night of the high school football season kicks off. Below are Week 1 previews of local teams:


The Big Walnut and Westerville Central high school football teams have played each other every year since Central opened its doors in 2003.

Big Walnut, however, has dominated the series, winning all eight games.

The Warhawks will look to end that losing streak when the teams meet on Friday, Aug. 26, at Central.

Last season, Central appeared headed for its first win over the host Golden Eagles when it opened a 20-0 lead in the first half. Big Walnut, however, rallied for a 28-26 win.

Five of the eight games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

The Warhawks' ground game was hit with a big blow for the second consecutive season, as senior running back James Byers was again lost for the season after sustaining an ACL injury to his left knee during a preseason practice. He missed last season with a right knee injury.

Seniors running backs Josh Gardy and Jalen Liggins will look to fill the void for Central, which finished 2-8 last season.

Also for the Warhawks, senior quarterback Cody Kondas returns after missing the final six games last season with a knee injury.

"They're a good football team with great athletes," Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver said of Central. "It's a big test the first week of the season. In the week one game, you want to set the tempo for the season, get things moving in the right direction."

Senior quarterback Tyler Beam returns to lead Big Walnut, which went 10-3 last season, losing to Uniontown Lake 42-14 in the Division II, Region 7 final. Last season, Beam completed 58 of 133 passes for 694 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions, rushed for 783 yards and six touchdowns on 126 carries and was named first-team all-OCC-Capital Division.

Senior running back Lucas Garcia, who rushed for 761 yards and seven touchdowns on 152 carries last season, was second-team all-league and special mention all-district.

"What they do, they do well," Central coach John Magistro said.

"They don't come to the line and try to confuse you. They're going to run their power game, their trap game, their isos and they'll throw the ball off of that. What they do is not a whole lot, but they do it well."

-By Frank DiRenna


The Worthington Kilbourne and Westerville North high school football teams struggled through disappointing seasons last fall. Each squad is looking to the Friday, Aug. 26, opener at North as a springboard to redemption.

Kilbourne ended last season with a 13-7 win over Thomas Worthington to secure fifth place (3-4) in the OCC-Central Division behind Hilliard Davidson (7-0), Dublin Coffman (6-1), Hilliard Darby (5-2) and Upper Arlington (4-3) and ahead of Thomas (2-5), Central Crossing (1-6) and Westland (0-7).

Westerville North was shut out four times last year andlost to Olentangy 44-12 to finish 0-10. The Warriors went 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal, last behind Westerville South (6-1), Dublin Jerome (5-2), Dublin Scioto (4-3), Olentangy (4-3), Olentangy Liberty (4-3), Marysville (3-4) and Westerville Central (2-5). The winless season extended North's losing streak to 25 games.

Kilbourne defeated North 34-19 in last season's opener.

This year's contest features two first-year starting quarterbacks.

Kilbourne senior quarterback Brian Miller saw limited playing time last year, when he completed 11 of 17 passes for 146 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

"Hopefully we can improve from last season. There is a lot of rebuilding, but we're looking forward to the season," Miller said. "I like the responsibility. I look forward to the pressure. That's just sort of how I am."

Warriors senior quarterback B.J. Campfield will be playing his first season at quarterback after playing defensive back, running back and wide receiver last season. He rushed for 196 yards and one touchdown in 2010.

"You would think he has been playing quarterback his entire life," North coach Mike Owens said. "He's picked up the offense very quickly and worked extremely hard to not only win the position, but also excel at it."

-By Trey Smith


Groveport High School football coach Tim Brown is expecting Westerville South to blitz nearly every down when the teams open Friday, Aug. 26, at South.

Senior quarterback Shane Denny and his spread offense will need to consistently make quick, smart decisions, Brown said.

Denny has a reputation for being tough to rattle. Last season, he threw for 794 yards without an interception in 162 passing attempts.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback should receive strong support from an offensive line featuring two three-year starters in center Kyle Bobo and right tackle Jimmy Frazier, and a two-year starter in left guard Durrell Bristol.

Denny will attempt to distribute the ball to tailback Melvin Smith, wide receivers Wyatt Hikins and Josh Byer and slotback Ryan Jones, a third-year starter who is known for his blocking.

South's 4-3 defense returns only two starters in senior safety Evan Lese and senior cornerback Charles McLemore.

McLemore had two interceptions and Lese had one last season.

"Westerville South is a pressure defense and they have a lot of blitz schemes to try to force your hand," said Brown, whose team beat South 19-10 last year. "We're a little more balanced offensively this year, and our guys will need to do a good job of taking what South's defense gives them while avoiding making big mistakes."

South's spread offense returns three starters in junior quarterback Marcus Ball, senior wide receiver Kelly Carter and junior wide receiver Gary Brown.

Senior Daxton Cates and junior Noah Prentiss are South's top running backs.

Last year, Ball was 91 of 180 passing for 1,204 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Brown had 21 receptions for 353 yards and five touchdowns, and Cates rushed for 541 yards and eight touchdowns.

Groveport's defense, which is led by senior end Vince Waymon and senior safety Ryan Jones, will focus first on shutting down South's running game.

"Their quarterback runs and throws well, and they have a big, strong running back (Cates) and a fast, athletic line," Brown said. "But we have decent speed and good cornerbacks, so I think our defense matches up well with them."

-By Aaron Blankenship