Coach Mark Crabtree and his Dublin Coffman High School football team will have a sense of familiarity when the Shamrocks travel to Perrysburg on Friday, Aug. 25, to open the season.
The Yellow Jackets use a similar spread offensive scheme, so Coffman's defense will have an idea of what to expect.
On the other hand, so will Perrysburg.
"There is an advantage to being more familiar with what an offense will try to accomplish, and I think the same can be said for them," said Crabtree, whose team finished 9-3 last season after losing to Huber Heights Wayne 52-10 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal. "It's not like it's something we haven't seen before and won't know how to react. I think it will benefit both teams."
Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said his team has never played the Shamrocks, but agreed it might be like looking into a mirror offensively.
"We run a spread that's probably similar to Coffman," said Kregel, whose team finished 6-4 last year. "We come out with four wide receivers or three receivers and a tight end or sometimes even go five receivers and no backs. We have designed quarterback-run plays and do a lot like the Ohio State offense does now."
The Yellow Jackets are led by sophomore quarterback Drew Sims. In five games as a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder threw for 1,125 yards and 14 touchdowns. His primary target looks to be senior Ty Bezek (6-0, 200), who had 32 receptions for 503 yards and three scores last season.
Juniors Tyler Detterman (tackle; 6-0, 275) and Carson Gulgin (guard; 6-1, 230) return on the offensive line.
"They're all shotgun (alignments) and historically they put up big numbers," Crabtree said. "They'll be spreading the ball around and getting the ball to people in space."
The Yellow Jackets run a 4-2-5 defense, whose top performers include Gulgin on the line, sophomore Preston Evans at linebacker and junior Ian Riddle at cornerback. Riddle had eight interceptions last season.
"They have four defensive linemen and mix in some man and zone coverages," Crabtree said. "They're not overly big, but they appear to be quick and fly to the ball. It will be a heck of a challenge."
Senior Marcus Ernst (5-11, 175) will start at quarterback for the Shamrocks after a preseason battle with junior Ethan Brown (6-2, 216).
"Marcus Ernst is our starter," Crabtree said. "He's a senior, he's put in his time with four years in the program and he's both a great leader and a great athlete. He'll do some great things. He's waited his turn and it's his opportunity."
Ernst has two standout performers to whom he can distribute the ball in senior running back Gavin Sturdivant and sophomore wide receiver Mike Drennan. Last season, Sturdivant battled injuries, rushing for 320 yards and four touchdowns on 69 carries, and Drennan caught 46 passes for 524 yards and two scores. According to Crabtree, Drennan has several Division I scholarship offers.
The Shamrocks returned five of their front seven on defense with seniors Cole Bagozzi (5-10, 250) and Darius Cummings (5-6, 199) on the line and seniors Jeslord Boateng (6-1, 213), Luke Crabtree (6-1, 225) and Griffin Hoak (6-1, 226) at linebacker. Junior Ryan Hamilton (5-11, 193) has moved to linebacker after starting in the secondary last season.
"We have some guys back, but we also will be relying on some inexperienced guys," Crabtree said. "It doesn't matter how good you are, there is no replacement for game experience. They have been working hard and have been getting better all the time."