Brody Egan cringes when he thinks back to his first prep start.
It took place in Week 1 of the 2015 season when the Pickerington High School Central football team lost to Trotwood-Madison 32-25 in the Backyard Blitz at Huber Heights Wayne.
Egan, a 5-foot-10, 300-pound senior left tackle who has a scholarship offer from Morehead State and also snaps for field goals while seeing spot duty on the defensive line, would love nothing more than to avenge what has been a rare loss for he and his teammates.
The Tigers have gone 22-5 since the beginning of the 2015 season, and both teams are 2-0 heading into their rematch Friday, Sept. 8, at Central.
“That game left a sour taste in our mouths,” Egan said. “Those were some of the most athletic guys I’d seen up to that point.”
Egan is among the few current key players who saw extensive action in the last matchup between the programs.
Two others who did, though, were instrumental in the victory for Trotwood-Madison.
Quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers and running back Ra’veion Hargrove are now seniors for the Rams. In that 2015 matchup, Hargrove rushed 31 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns and Stephens-Peppers threw for two scores.
Hargrove, a 5-7, 175-pounder who has committed to Bowling Green, rushed for 3,039 yards and 41 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,699 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. He has 4.43 speed and rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 42-35 win over Piqua on Sept. 1.
Senior wide receiver Dallas Daniels, who has two Mid-American Conference offers, also is a key player on offense, while 6-4, 315-pound junior Jaison Williams is a returning starter on the offensive line.
The Rams won their only state title in program history in Division II in 2011 but were Division III state runners-up in 2013 and ’16 and state semifinalists in ’15. They went 12-3 a year ago, losing to Akron Hoban 30-0 in the state final.
Central ended up going 8-3 and losing in the first round of the 2015 Division I playoffs before going 12-2 and reaching a state semifinal last fall.
“We’re 2-0 and they’re 2-0, and they just won a big game against Piqua,” coach Jay Sharrett said. “They score a lot of points.”
A group of players who weren’t factors when Central met the Rams in 2015, such as senior defensive lineman Grant Meek and nearly all of the Tigers’ key skill position players, will try to help the Tigers move to 3-0.
Meek transferred from Pickerington North during the middle of the 2015 season and is now a key player defensively for Central, which held Indianapolis Cathedral to 289 yards of offense in a 25-20 victory Sept. 1.
“As a defense, we’re solid,” Meek said. “We have great chemistry and are all good friends on and off the field. However, there are always things we need to work on.”
The Tigers, who opened with a 24-21 win over Detroit Cass Tech on Aug. 24, handed Cathedral its third consecutive loss by seven points or fewer.
Central built a 13-0 first-quarter lead and fell behind 14-13 before taking control for good against the Irish.
“I’m glad we came out fast,” Sharrett said. “I was very proud of them when (Cathedral) took the lead because we wrestled the lead right back.”
Against Cathedral, quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and completed 10 of 16 passes for 116 yards, including connecting with Xavier Henderson four times for 58 yards.
Jamir Jackson rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Crenshaw has rushed for 204 yards and Jackson 149 yards on the season, and eight players have at least one reception for the Tigers.
Defensively for the Rams, key players include seniors Tobias Hailey (6-0, 177) and Caleb Johnson (6-2, 175) in the secondary, senior James Parker (6-0, 225) at linebacker and junior Javen Medley (5-9, 220) on the line.
“Playing Trotwood this week will be a challenge, but that is what we enjoy,” Meek said.
“The tough games are the games we look forward to.”