For his first year as Grove City High School football coach, Tennyson Varney inherited a program that was coming off a winless 2016 season.

The Dawgs enjoyed slightly more success, going 1-9, but then lost about 30 players to graduation. That leaves Varney with a much more inexperienced group to work with heading into season two.

With that in mind, he might be anticipating preseason scrimmages as much as any coach in central Ohio.

Grove City is among about three dozen area programs that will play in a scrimmage on the first day allowed by the OHSAA, which is Tuesday, Aug. 7. The Dawgs will travel to Chillicothe for a 5:30 p.m. start.

"We're young," Varney said. "We're definitely going to have a big sophomore group. We're looking for six or seven kids to play varsity as sophomores, so (the scrimmages are) pretty important right now. When you're a veteran team, it's more about getting timing down. For us, it takes on a little different role."

Also among the teams that will scrimmage Aug. 7 is defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central, which will visit Dublin Coffman to face perennial playoff contenders Toledo Central Catholic and the Shamrocks.

Dublin Jerome, which made the playoffs each of the past two seasons, will play host to a Hilliard Davidson program that had made nine consecutive postseason appearances before coming up short last fall.

Pickerington North will play at Hamilton Township on Aug. 7, giving Panthers coach Nate Hillerich a chance to face the program he led from 2010-16.

There are a handful of scrimmages scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 8, and Aug. 10 before Grove City returns to action Aug. 11 against host Hamilton Township and Zanesville.

The Dawgs play their final scrimmage Aug. 17 at Worthington Kilbourne.

"It's just about accountability for us," Varney said. "The expectation of what we need to be successful never changes. This year there's a lot of competition (for playing time)."

Another coach looking forward to getting back on the field for his second season is Watterson's Brian Kennedy.

A 1992 Watterson graduate who also served as an assistant with the Eagles before taking over last fall, Kennedy believes a productive offseason has set his team on a positive track.

The Eagles, who went 2-8 last season, play their first scrimmages Aug. 11 against host London and Mifflin. They then travel to Tiffin Columbian on Aug. 17 for their preseason finale.

While London and Mifflin both were playoff qualifiers last season, Columbian is coming off a 0-10 finish.

"We're going to have a lot of guys that haven't played varsity football," Kennedy said. "I don't think I'll approach (our scrimmages) any differently than last year, but I think we'll just try to get in a lot of reps. With it being my second year, we probably did a lot better job utilizing (offseason days). I think the kids are probably ahead of where they were last year.

"To me you really don't have a feel for what a guy can do until the first scrimmage. Sometimes you have a kid who's not a great practice player who gets a jersey across from them and is a different kid. That first scrimmage maybe confirms what you're thinking. That first scrimmage maybe helps you see who's going to show up and who's not."

Of the City League's 15 programs, five have new coaches.

Tom Jones, who took over at Whetstone after serving as an assistant there, is excited about the opportunity to practice "game-like situations."

The Braves lost 14 players to graduation after going 3-7 last fall, and Jones is expecting to see competition at several key spots.

"There are only so many things you can control with your team and in getting them game ready," Jones said. "You have to have realistic player substitutions and use the scrimmage as if it's like an actual game. Being around the school, I think a lot of the players and a lot of the alumni have a good grasp of what the Whetstone student-athlete is capable of so we're trying to take the step in just finding out our personnel and see who is willing to step up."


At a glance

Below is a list of scrimmages involving central Ohio high school football teams throughout the ThisWeek coverage area (info subject to change; home team listed first):

Aug. 7

Big Walnut vs. Mount Vernon (10 a.m.); Chillicothe vs. Grove City (5:30 p.m.); Dublin Coffman vs. Pickerington Central and Toledo Central Catholic (10 a.m.); Dublin Jerome vs. Hilliard Davidson (10 a.m.); Dublin Scioto vs. Westerville North (11 a.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Pickerington North (11 a.m.); Harvest Prep vs. Kenton (6 p.m.); Hilliard Bradley vs. Clayton Northmont (10 a.m.); Johnstown vs. Marion-Franklin (10 a.m.); Licking Heights vs. Independence (10 a.m.); Marion Elgin vs. Columbus West (4 p.m.); Newark vs. Olentangy Berlin and Zanesville Maysville (10 a.m.); Olentangy vs. Lancaster (10 a.m.); Reynoldsburg vs. Hartley (6 p.m.); Sparta Highland vs. Watkins Memorial (10 a.m.); St. Charles vs. Buckeye Valley (2 p.m.); Teays Valley vs. Worthington Kilbourne (11 a.m.); Westerville South vs. Central Crossing (9 a.m.); Zanesville vs. Canal Winchester (10 a.m.)

Aug. 8

Upper Arlington vs. Walnut Ridge (9 a.m.)

Aug. 10

Buckeye Valley vs. Thomas Worthington (10 a.m.); Columbus South vs. Reigning Sports Academy (2 p.m.); Grove City Christian vs. Centennial (9 a.m.); Harvest Prep vs. Northland (6:30 p.m.); Lucasville Valley vs. Grandview (6 p.m.); Olentangy Berlin vs. Springfield (1 p.m.); Worthington Kilbourne vs. Gahanna and Central Crossing (5 p.m.)

Aug. 11

Bexley vs. Briggs (10 a.m.); Big Walnut vs. Licking Heights (9 a.m.); Canal Winchester vs. Eastmoor Academy and Hartley (11 a.m.); Cleveland Collinwood vs. Beechcroft (Noon); Columbus Academy vs. Heath (10 a.m.); DeSales vs. Dublin Coffman (10 a.m.); Dresden Tri-Valley vs. Watkins Memorial (10 a.m.); Dublin Jerome vs. Olentangy (10 a.m.); Groveport vs. Lancaster, Marion-Franklin and Westerville Central (10 a.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Grove City and Zanesville (10 a.m.); Hilliard Darby vs. Pickerington Central (10 a.m.); Hilliard Davidson vs. Dublin Scioto (9 a.m.); Johnstown vs. Liberty Union (10 a.m.); Linden-McKinley vs. Africentric (Noon); London vs. Mifflin and Watterson (10 a.m.); Marysville vs. Hilliard Bradley (10 a.m.); Mount Vernon vs. Delaware (10 a.m.); Olentangy Liberty vs. New Albany (10 a.m.); Olentangy Orange vs. Reynoldsburg (10 a.m.); Ready vs. Newark Catholic (10 a.m.); Thornville Sheridan vs. Columbus West (10 a.m.); Upper Arlington vs. Pickerington North (8 a.m.); Walnut Ridge vs. Columbus East (10 a.m.); Westerville North vs. Newark and Whetstone (10 a.m.); Worthington Christian vs. Columbus Crusaders (10 a.m.)

Aug. 15

Beechcroft vs. Marion-Franklin (6:30 p.m.); Hartley vs. Dublin Jerome (6 p.m.)

Aug. 16

Canal Winchester vs. Logan (7 p.m.); Central Crossing vs. Lancaster (6 p.m.); Columbus Crusaders vs. Grove City Christian at Otterbein (6 p.m.); DeSales vs. Hilliard Bradley (6 p.m.); Dublin Coffman vs. Westerville Central (7 p.m.); Grandview vs. North Robinson Colonel Crawford (6 p.m.); Licking Heights vs. Dresden Tri-Valley (6 p.m.); Nelsonville-York vs. Ready (7 p.m.); New Albany vs. Olentangy Orange (6 p.m.); Newark vs. Westland (7 p.m.); Pickerington North vs. Westerville South (6 p.m.); Teays Valley vs. Big Walnut (6 p.m.); Thomas Worthington vs. Groveport (7 p.m.); Walnut Ridge vs. Zanesville (6:30 p.m.); Westerville North vs. Whitehall (7 p.m.); Whetstone vs. Lima Senior (6 p.m.); Worthington Christian vs. Centennial (7 p.m.)

Aug. 17

Bexley vs. Watkins Memorial (5 p.m.); Chillicothe vs. Olentangy Berlin (7 p.m.); Columbus Academy vs. Centerburg (6 p.m.); Delaware vs. Marion Harding (7 p.m.); Dublin Scioto vs. Olentangy Liberty (7 p.m.); Findlay vs. Hilliard Davidson (6 p.m.); Franklin Heights vs. Northland (7 p.m.); Gahanna vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier (7 p.m.); Greenfield McClain vs. Columbus South (7 p.m.); Harvest Prep vs. Independence (6:30 p.m.); Hilliard Darby vs. Marysville (7 p.m.); Johnstown vs. St. Charles (4:30 p.m.); Lakewood vs. Briggs (7 p.m.); Licking Valley vs. Hamilton Township (7 p.m.); Linden-McKinley vs. Columbus West (6 p.m.); Olentangy vs. Pickerington Central (7 p.m.); Tiffin Columbian vs. Watterson (7 p.m.); Worthington Kilbourne vs. Grove City (7 p.m.)