The Groveport Madison and Westerville North high school football teams have at least one thing in common as they prepare to open the season against each other Friday, Aug. 24, at North.
The Cruisers and Warriors both are getting used to new offenses, albeit for different reasons.
Hoping to better utilize the talents of his players, sixth-year Groveport coach Bryan Schoonover is switching from the spread to the run-oriented wing-T.
North is going the other way, as first-year coach Bryan Johnson is installing the spread after the Warriors generally depended on the run the past two years under former coach Scott Wetzel, who left for Delaware in April.
Both coaches anticipate tests, not only from their opponents, but also from themselves.
"(Groveport is) fast. They have a few slotbacks who are explosive and they have a bruiser of a fullback (Allan Joyce)," Johnson said. "We saw two or three teams when I coached at Liberty Union. Groveport is an under-center wing-T team. A lot of teams will run it out of the shotgun, but (Groveport) will go under center with jet sweeps and traps. It's a challenge to prepare for. It's an offense you just don't see a lot of anymore."
The Cruisers are coming off an 0-10 season in which they played just four games decided by 14 points or fewer. They return a combined eight starters, five on defense and three on offense, including offensive linemen Te-Rah Edwards and Nick Wheeler and linebackers Deahmi Guinn and Skyler Mouser.
Guinn has moved from the defensive line to help anchor Groveport's 4-4 defense.
North went 2-8 last year, losing its final six games.
Auri Dover will enter his first full season as starting quarterback after seeing time during the second half of last season. He completed five of 14 passes for 58 yards, one touchdown and one interception a year ago.
"He has a good command of the offense. He gets the ball out there quick," Johnson said of Dover. "Our offensive line has been progressing very well. The guys are learning more about what we want to do. We're going with four receivers instead of two at a time, which is what they were used to. They'll get even better."
Rondale Smith leads the Warriors' running game, coming off a junior season in which he rushed for 407 yards and six touchdowns on 113 carries.
"(The Warriors) seem to have an understanding of the (spread). They play really, really hard," Schoonover said. "Defensively, they're very athletic. (K.J. King) really stands out at defensive end. They have some guys who can play. They will be a handful."
This is the third consecutive year the Cruisers and Warriors have met in the season opener. North won 27-0 last year and 24-21 in 2016.
"We've been doing well. It's always tough to really tell until that first game," Schoonover said, adding that one scrimmage was canceled two days after being cut short because of lightning. "Things will get simpler as we keep working at it."