Central Crossing High School football coach Trevor White suggested his team treat its visit to perennial power Hartley on Friday, Sept. 1, as “a wonderful opportunity to play on the big stage.”

Despite the teams’ disparate recent fortunes, they do have at least one thing in common this week – both are 0-1.

The Comets are coming off a 36-25 loss to Marion-Franklin on Aug. 25 that started with a lost fumble on the opening play deep in their own territory.

The Hawks, Division IV state champions each of the past two years who now are competing in Division III, lost to Toledo Central Catholic 35-16 that same night.

“We must take a big step forward,” White said. “It’s a football cliche, but it’s been said that your biggest improvement comes between Week 1 and Week 2. This is one of the best programs in the state that we’re going to be playing. Their physical size, speed and depth are definitely a challenge.”

Although Marion-Franklin committed four turnovers to Central Crossing’s two last week, the Comets couldn’t claw all the way back from being down 16-0 just 2 minutes, 36 seconds into the game.

Running back Pierre France rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Comets, and wide receiver Owen Lakso added three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Ben Bohne, who won the starting job from incumbent Kameron Peck, completed eight of 22 passes for 91 yards and an interception.

“We fought back, and with that kind of effort we will win a lot of games,” White said. “We put more pressure on Marion-Franklin late; we just didn’t play well enough early. You learn your lessons and move forward.”

Two Hartley quarterbacks threw touchdown passes Aug. 25, as Anthony Carfagna tossed an 86-yard score to Nick Cone in the first quarter and Miles Fleming found Phillip Cole for a 36-yard score in the second.

The Hawks boast a handful of sought-after recruits, including Ohio University commit Patrick Gilliland on the offensive line.

“We’re not far away,” Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “We didn’t play well enough to win (Aug. 25), but we’re going to get a lot better.”

Tirese Kelso scored Central Crossing’s only touchdown in last year’s 42-7 loss to the Hawks, rushing for a 3-yard score in the fourth quarter.