Coach Jason Peters always looks forward to his Grandview Heights High School football team's opening-week matchup with Centennial.
For the eighth consecutive year, the teams will kick off the season against each other. The game is Friday, Aug. 24, at Centennial.
The Bobcats hold a 6-1 edge in those Week 1 contests, including a 30-28 victory last year. The Stars won 20-7 in 2013.
"It's almost like a neighborhood rivalry," said Peters, whose team finished 5-5 last season. "(Centennial) coach (Donte) Goosby always has his kids ready to play. All you have to do is look at last season. They gave us all we could handle."
Last year, the teams were tied at 28 in the fourth quarter when the Stars snapped the ball over the punter's head and out of their end zone for a safety with 4 minutes to play.
"Grandview is physical, very tough and extremely well-coached," said Goosby, whose team finished 4-6 last season. "In past years they have had athletes, which makes them extremely explosive. If nothing else, they will come up and hit you."
The Stars feature several players who expect to make an impact on both sides of the ball. They include seniors Jamal Erby (FB/LB) and Kari Woods (OL/DE), junior Luchene Davis (RB/OLB) and sophomores Jaylen Gilbert (QB/DB), Marquese Scott (RB/DB) and Syquee Womack (WR/DB).
Davis, who was second-team all-district last fall, will be a game-time decision after suffering a hand injury during the preseason. Gilbert is back for his second season at quarterback.
"We've had our moments where we look good and we have moments when you could see we needed to improve," Goosby said. "From day one until now, we have improved big time. Our starting running back (Davis) is dinged up and our numbers (on the roster) range from 30 to 35. When you have that, an injury can make a big difference."
The Bobcats will have a rotation at running back featuring seniors Hudson Jump and Harrison Morosky and junior Darrion Davis. Last season, Morosky ran for 355 yards and one touchdown on 63 carries, and Jump had 125 yards on 21 carries with one score.
Junior quarterback Kyle Casey broke his left (non-throwing) arm in the eighth week last fall, finishing 44-for-80 passing for 717 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
Junior Luke Lachey returns at wide receiver and defensive back. He caught 15 passes for 416 yards and six touchdowns last fall, and also had three interceptions.
Peters wants his team to be aggressive from the first minute.
"(The opening game) sets the tone for the year," he said. "You talk about that with your kids that after the first week, some schools will be 0-1 and the other half 1-0. We ask our kids which ones they are going to be."
Goosby said the opener is about executing a game plan for not only that contest, but the season.
"It's extremely important because we have a lot that we want to get done this season," he said. "We're looking to this year as the one that we are setting the foundation for turning things around. If we get a win against a team like Grandview, it can show us how we can fare against other teams this year. That would be great for momentum."
Girls volleyball team expects improvement
After needing 13 matches to get its first victory last year, the girls volleyball team needed only two this season.
Grandview opened at home Aug. 18 against Grove City Christian and Whetstone. It lost to Grove City Christian 25-23, 25-18 before defeating the Braves 24-26, 25-16, 25-18.
"It's amazing (to get the first win)," said senior middle hitter Katherine Taylor, a four-year starter. "Last year, we were struggling to get used to each other and a new system under a new coach (Shelli Sanzo). The more we bond together, the better we play."
Sanzo said the team has gained a lot of confidence since last season, when it finished 2-20 overall and 1-9 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
"We saw some mistakes that we were making in the first match (against Grove City Christian), but they were mistakes that we could fix," Sanzo said. "They didn't get down on themselves and kept coming back."
The Bobcats feature a mixture of youth and experience. Taylor (honorable mention all-league) returns to the starting lineup along with juniors Janey Coplan (setter/defensive specialist) and Leila Meyer (outside hitter/back row) and sophomore Hannah Yochem (outside hitter/back row).
A couple of freshmen have joined the starting lineup in Sophia Gerhold and Taylor Sanzo. Gerhold (middle hitter) is a 5-foot-11 move-in from Olentangy who plays club volleyball while Sanzo is a setter/defensive specialist and the daughter of the coach.
"They already seem to be working really well together and have been communicating well on the court," said coach Sanzo, whose team opens MSL-Ohio play Thursday, Aug. 23, at home against Worthington Christian. "We feel like we have a good team aspect and the attitude is 100 percent better than last season. The environment is so positive."
Nina Burchfield (back row), Makenzie Bush (outside hitter/back row) and Sydney Narcelles (libero/back row) are the other seniors. The Bobcats hope to get Bush back later this season after she suffered a knee injury in the spring during track and field season.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Lara Kowalcyk (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Grace Rubin (outside hitter).
"We have been working on our serve-receive and getting our defense together," coach Sanzo said. "They are working to figure out who covers where. Those are the big things we have been working on early."
Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Grove City Christian and Whetstone
Aug. 20 -- At Briggs
Aug. 21 -- At Harvest Prep
*Aug. 23 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 25 -- at Westland
Aug. 28 -- at Mount Gilead
*Aug. 30 -- at Bexley
*Sept. 6 -- at Whitehall
Sept. 8 -- vs. Northridge
Sept. 11 -- at Lakewood
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 17 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
Sept. 18 -- vs. Shekinah Christian
Sept. 24 -- at Centennial
*Sept. 27 -- at Worthington Christian
Sept. 29 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Bexley
*Oct. 4 -- vs. Whitehall
*Oct. 9 -- at Columbus Academy
Oct. 11 -- vs. Cristo Rey
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls tennis teams:
Aug. 29 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Aug. 25 -- MSL-Ohio midseason tournament at Turnberry
Aug. 29 -- Washington Court House at Quail Run
Aug. 25 -- At Fairbanks
*Aug. 29 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 25 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Aug. 29 -- At Worthington Christian
Aug. 23 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian