Each of the past two seasons, the Independence and Northland high school football teams faced off in competitive openers.

Each of the past two seasons, the Independence and Northland high school football teams faced off in competitive openers.

On Friday, Aug. 28, at Independence, 76ers coach Maurice Douglas expects his City League-South Division squad to face another strong Vikings team after losing 20-18 in 2013 and 34-20 a year ago to the City-North opponent.

Last season, Northland went 7-3 while Independence finished 4-6.

"They've got some big kids surrounded with some pretty big athletes," Douglas said. "They may be the biggest team in the City. They're replacing some guys, but they're similar (in scheme)."

Also expected to show a familiar look is the 76ers, who were led a year ago by running back Ronnie Kuipers. After rushing for 2,002 yards last season, Kuipers battled a hamstring injury over the summer but is expected to be healthy for the opener, according to Douglas.

Although the 76ers are young on the offensive line, they return eight starters on offense. Also back are senior quarterback Jalin Rodriquez, senior wide receiver Kaavon Parker and junior offensive lineman Christian Earnest.

For the defense, Parker returns in the secondary after finishing with four interceptions, and Earnest (DL), senior Jaquel Clardy (DL) and senior Santino Peake (DL) all are returnees.

Northland has new starters at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and at three offensive line spots, but seniors like Domonique Powers (WR/TE/LB) and Moussa Kaba (OL/DL) provide size and experience.

"Domonique Powers has been playing ever since he was a freshman," Vikings coach Kevin Tooson said. "The guys give him a hard time and call him 'Coach Powers.' ...

"Another kid with enthusiasm is (defensive back) Chad King Jr. He gets after it. You can tell he loves being out there."

Slate includes other crossover games

After serving as an assistant at Reynoldsburg the past three seasons, Eric Smith took a job in the spring as an assistant at Briggs.

When the head coaching job at Columbus East came open shortly after that, he believed it was a position he wanted to pursue.

Smith's first game as a head coach will take place Friday, Aug. 28, at Briggs, but it will be on the other sideline.

"I was supposed to be the offensive coordinator at Briggs," Smith said. "(Briggs) has got quite a few kids back. I expect them to be pretty good if they coach them up right."

Although Briggs featured a run-first offense and went 4-6 a year ago, Smith expects the Bruins to show more of a pistol passing scheme this season under second-year coach Larry Willoughby.

East will be led by senior Asa Burke, a track standout who could play several roles on offense, as well as two-way linemen Dwayne Logan (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) and Orpheus Twyman (6-4, 240).

Senior Tyson Miles is expected to be at quarterback, with senior Conner Holt back at running back and seniors Cam Marshall and Kapone Richardson returning at wide receiver.

"(The Bruins) did a lot of running last year, but I believe they're going to be switching their offense some this year," Smith said.

Also expected to have a new look is Mifflin, which opens Friday, Aug. 28, at Columbus West.

Anthony Thornton, a 1987 Brookhaven graduate who led his alma mater to two playoff berths in three seasons from 2008-10, is the Punchers' new coach.

Mifflin expects to open up its offense a bit after featuring the wing-T and power running for most of former coach Gregg Miller's five-year tenure.

West returns one of the best running backs in the City in senior Byron White, who rushed for 1,019 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

New coaches set for opening week

Including East and Mifflin, five City football teams have new coaches.

During the offseason, Africentric hired Mark Treece, Jason Ryan took over at Linden-McKinley and Grady Parks Jr. became the coach at Columbus South.

Ryan is a 2003 St. Charles graduate who is hoping to rebuild a Panthers' program that won just 11 games over the past six seasons combined.

Last fall, Linden went 2-8 and one of the teams it beat, Africentric, is not back on its schedule after being the opener the past three seasons.

In the Nubians' place is Orrville, which went 2-8 last year and has lost 13 of its past 15 games.

While Linden is in Division III, Region 9, the Red Riders compete in Division V, Region 16.

"(They have a) mobile quarterback with a big, accurate arm (and) two very tough running backs that can also get the edge," Ryan said. "(You) would not know that they went 2-8 last year by looking at them."

Africentric went 1-9 last year after enduring back-to-back 0-10 seasons. It opens Friday, Aug. 28, at Ansonia, which finished 3-7 last season with one of its wins over Linden.

South also is looking for a better start after going 2-8 last season.

The Bulldogs lost their opener last year to Whetstone 28-8 but later were given a forfeit win because the Braves used an ineligible player.