Northland High School senior football player Jesse Prewitt III called making the playoffs an "expectation" as opposed to a goal during the preseason.
With that in mind, the Vikings' next matchup might be crucial in achieving that objective.
Whitehall made the Division II, Region 7 playoffs as the No. 4 seed and finished 7-4 last season, but it lost to Northland 31-28 in Week 2.
The Vikings also went 7-3 during the regular season, winning their final five games, but settled for ninth in the same region to fall one spot shy of a playoff berth. They lost to two playoff qualifiers, Mansfield Senior and Granville, and got no computer points for defeating the Columbus Crusaders club team.
As was the case a season ago, both Northland and host Whitehall enter their matchup Friday, Aug. 31, with 0-1 records to further increase the urgency.
The Vikings missed a two-point conversion with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in a 28-27 loss to Zeeland (Michigan) West in their opener Aug. 24.
Northland has one of the City's most explosive offenses with senior John Branham Jr. at running back, junior Kalil Branham at quarterback and Prewitt III and senior Mark Lee among their wide receivers.
Despite being held to a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Raymell Byrd for its only score in a 19-6 loss to Westerville Central on Aug. 24, Whitehall also has several key skill-position players back after averaging 30.5 points last season.
Among them is Byrd, who completed eight of 21 passes for 108 yards with one interception and rushed for 89 yards on 27 carries against Central.
Wayne Blackshear rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries to also contribute offensively for the Rams, who drove deep into Warhawks territory three times but failed to score on any of those opportunities.
Eastmoor looks to build on opening win
As was the case last season, Eastmoor Academy opened with a blowout win over Franklin Heights.
The Warriors would like better results the next few weeks than they had a season ago when they lost four of their next five games and went on to finish 6-4.
Eastmoor, which beat Franklin Heights 45-14 on Aug. 24, plays host to St. Charles on Friday, Aug. 31.
The Cardinals have a new coach in Deke Hocker and opened with a 56-7 loss to Dublin Scioto on Aug. 24.
Eastmoor's Savon Edwards ran for touchdowns of 92 and 2 yards and added a 50-yard punt return for a score against the Falcons, while Napoleon Harris added a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 21-yard touchdown reception.
Coach Jim Miranda also was happy with the play of senior Marquise Laster, the team's new quarterback this fall.
"Laster threw the ball extremely well," Miranda said. "He showed great poise. To be honest, there were some opportunities we missed on and some long balls that were a little overthrown, but overall, he showed great leadership and led the team to a great first win."
Franklin Heights quarterback Cody Little, who ran for 10 touchdowns and threw for 16 last season, was limited to a second-quarter scoring run and a third-quarter touchdown pass.
"You've just got to contain him," Miranda said of Little.
Mifflin out to bounce back against Cavs
For the second consecutive week, Mifflin will play a team that made the Division II playoffs last season.
After losing to Walnut Ridge 55-7 on Aug. 23 in a game televised on CW Columbus, the Punchers play host to Chillicothe on Friday, Aug. 31.
Mifflin's offense showed flashes of what it hopes to be during the second half against the Scots when senior Tawon Cannon came in at quarterback.
The Punchers played much of the first half without senior Aman Thornton, who suffered an ankle injury before returning to the game.
"He's a Thornton, and we fight," said coach Anthony Thornton, Aman's father. "We knew it was going to be a slow start offensively because of our inexperience at the quarterback position, but at the end of the day, we had some opportunities."
Chillicothe, which went 8-3 last season to post the same record as Mifflin, opened with a 14-13 victory over Teays Valley on Aug. 24.
J'Quan Harris had a 92-yard kickoff return for one of Chillicothe's touchdowns.
Cavaliers quarterback Adrian Beverly completed just five of 10 passes for 35 yards but rushed 24 times for 86 yards.
McKellan Lee ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left for the game-winning points as Chillicothe rallied from a 13-2 deficit.