Both coaches know what to expect when the Centennial and Grandview Heights high school football teams open the season Friday, Aug. 25, but that doesn't make stopping the opposition any easier.
The teams are opening-week opponents for the seventh consecutive season. Grandview holds a 5-1 edge in that span, including a 40-0 victory last year. Centennial won 20-7 in 2013.
"I expect the same thing we get every year: a group full of tough guys who are well-coached and execute at an extremely high level," said Centennial coach Donte Goosby, whose team finished 3-7 last season.
"They are not going to make mistakes, and they run around the field and play football the way it's supposed to be played."
Grandview coach Jason Peters also has an idea of the challenges posed by the Stars.
"They are one of those teams that make you nervous," said Peters, whose team finished 6-4 last season. "They have athletes, and if they get past us we're not going to catch them. We need to play smart football and not let their athletes have a chance to make big plays."
Both teams will be handing the offensive reins to young quarterbacks. The host Bobcats will rely on 6-foot-2, 180-pound sophomore Kyle Casey to run their multiple formation option/wing-T offense.
Centennial has 6-4, 195-pound freshman Jaylen Gilbert taking over for senior Craig Burt (6-4, 175), who has moved to wide receiver. He is the brother of 2017 graduate Kylen Gilbert, who played receiver.
Aiding the progress of Gilbert will be a running back corps led by junior Jamal Erby (5-10, 210) and sophomore Luchene Davis (5-9, 190).
"(The Stars) have four or five really good athletes," Peters said. "They have some shifty running backs, a quarterback with a good arm and some long receivers."
Returning in Grandview's backfield to help Casey are senior Bryce Stanley (5-11, 175) and junior Hudson Jump (6-0, 195). Stanley rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries last season, while Jump battled through injuries to rush for 458 yards and 11 scores on 89 carries.
"Offensively, they come out and give you very few plays but a bunch of different formations," Goosby said. "If you're not prepared to play at their tempo, it will be a long night."
The Bobcats will feature a 4-3 defensive look under new defensive coordinator Mike Lanza, a former head coach at Gahanna and Grove City. He replaced Matt Christ, who now is head coach at Westerville South.
Leading the defense are seniors James Lachey (6-3, 230; first-team all-state) and Brandon Spaulding (6-1, 245; special mention all-state). Lachey, who has committed to Bowling Green, had 63 tackles and 10 sacks last season, and Spaulding had 51 tackles and eight sacks.
"Those guys come out and hit you in the mouth and don't waste a lot of time," Goosby said. "They're not fancy. They just do their jobs and they do it well."
The Stars have only four seniors and 22 of the 35 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores.
"We are so young," Goosby said. "A win would go a long way to get our kids to believe."
The Bobcats also are looking for a strong start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013.
"We need to No. 1 stay healthy and No. 2 get better every day," Peters said. "We have some guys in new positions and we need to keep working until we get to where we need to be."