Despite having only nine seniors last fall, the Centennial High School football team enjoyed a winning season for the first time since 2001.
The Stars are coming off a 7-3 finish that included an opening 27-0 loss to eventual Division VI playoff qualifier Grandview and losses to perennial City League-North Division powers Northland and Beechcroft.
To seventh-year coach Donte Goosby, one of the best ways to prepare his team for a regular-season slate that will include each of those three opponents and six other returning foes is by being strategic with the Stars' preseason scrimmage schedule.
Centennial plays its opening scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 10, at Grove City Christian, follows with a three-way scrimmage Aug. 17 at home against Columbus South and Westland and completes the preseason Aug. 23 at home against Worthington Christian.
Grove City Christian and Worthington Christian compete in the MSL, as does Grandview, while South will provide a similar look to the eight City opponents on the Stars' schedule.
"We want to play teams that will give us a look that resembles what we're going to see, whether it be personnel, the type of kids they have or the scheme they run," Goosby said. "Grandview has been our first game since I was at Centennial. We want to get as much prepared as possible by how similar they are."
According to Goosby, a team sometimes must settle for "whoever is available" during the scrimmage season if it's unable to schedule the team it prefers to compete against.
In some cases, as third-year Westerville South coach Matthew Christ can attest to, finding the right fit for scrimmages is an evolving method.
The season before he took over the Wildcats, their scrimmage opponents included Central Crossing and Pickerington North.
Those matchups continued during Christ's first two years.
South will open the preseason Friday, Aug. 9, at Central Crossing but then will be a part of a four-team scrimmage Aug. 15 at home against Canal Winchester, Eastmoor Academy and Hartley.
The Wildcats will close the preseason Aug. 23 at Newark rather than continue the series against Pickerington North, while the Panthers will compete against Canal Winchester that day as the replacement for South.
"A lot of it is who you've been scrimmaging the past couple years," Christ said. "The major focus in a scrimmage is to get guys reps, especially in the first and second scrimmage. The guys that are kind of clear-cut starters, we want to get them work, but let's find out who the next guy is, who is ready to play varsity football. We're in a quad this year with Eastmoor, Hartley and Canal and felt like that's a good, physical scrimmage, so we've shifted gears."
Another team shifting its scrimmage opponents is Worthington Kilbourne, which has a new coach in Mike Edwards.
A 2003 Martins Ferry graduate who spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Pickerington North, Edwards kept some of the same matchups while adding a new twist to Kilbourne's preseason.
Instead of opening the scrimmage schedule against Teays Valley, as it did last year, the Wolves will play host to Watkins Memorial on Aug. 9.
They again will visit Central Crossing for their second scrimmage, an event Aug. 17 that also will include Walnut Ridge and Westerville Central, and they will conclude the preseason Aug. 23 at home against Grove City, as they did a year ago.
Kilbourne went 1-9 last season but was 72-66 in 13 seasons under former coach Vince Trombetti and made the playoffs as recently as 2015.
The Wolves got one of their first competition experiences under Edwards when they lost in the quarterfinal round of the Dublin Coffman 7-on-7 passing tournament July 20 to eventual champion Westerville South.
"We had a Teays Valley scrimmage last year, but we didn't want to go all the way down there from Worthington, so Watkins is coming to us," Edwards said. "The first (scrimmage) will be a lot of inside run, outside run, 7-on-7, then we'll come together for 10 plays. The second one we'll start picking up the down and distance, and the third one against Grove City, that'll be the one that's a game situation. It's kind of a slow progression into a football team."
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):
Central Crossing vs. Westerville South (9 a.m.); Clayton Northmont vs. Hilliard Bradley (10 a.m.); Columbus Academy vs. Licking Valley (10 a.m.); Columbus South vs. Reigning Sports Academy (2 p.m.); Grandview vs. Worthington Christian (10 a.m.); Hilliard Davidson vs. Dublin Jerome and Kettering Fairmont (10 a.m.); Jamestown Greeneview vs. Franklin Heights (5 p.m.); Lancaster at Olentangy (7 p.m.); Reynoldsburg vs. Hartley (6 p.m.); Worthington Kilbourne vs. Watkins Memorial (9 a.m.)
Caledonia River Valley vs. Buckeye Valley (10 a.m.); Centerville vs. Gahanna (9 a.m.); Delaware vs. Olentangy Orange (9 a.m.); DeSales vs. Mansfield Senior (10 a.m.); Dublin Coffman vs. Centerville, Pickerington Central and Toledo Central Catholic (10 a.m.); Grove City Christian vs. Centennial (9 a.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Pickerington North (9 a.m.); Johnstown vs. Marion-Franklin (10 a.m.); Marion Harding vs. Columbus East (11 a.m.); Mount Vernon vs. Big Walnut (10 a.m.); St. Charles vs. Groveport (10 a.m.); Teays Valley vs. Grove City (10 a.m.); Westerville North vs. Dublin Scioto (1 p.m.)
Harvest Prep vs. Beechcroft (6 p.m.)
Licking Heights vs. Big Walnut (6 p.m.); Westerville South vs. Canal Winchester, Eastmoor Academy and Hartley (6 p.m.)
Africentric vs. Linden-McKinley and Whetstone (11 a.m.); Grandview vs. Lucasville Valley (7 p.m.); Harvest Prep vs. Northland (6 p.m.); London vs. Mifflin and Ready (7 p.m.); Thornville Sheridan vs. Watterson (7 p.m.); Watkins Memorial vs. Dresden Tri-Valley and Whitehall (6 p.m.)
Bexley vs. Briggs and Columbus East (10 a.m.); Brecksville-Broadview Heights vs. Olentangy Berlin (10 a.m.); Centennial vs. Columbus South and Westland (11:30 a.m.); Central Crossing vs. Kilbourne, Walnut Ridge and Westerville Central (9 a.m.); DeSales vs. Coffman (10 a.m.); Grove City Christian vs. Columbus Crusaders (10 a.m.); Heath vs. Columbus Academy (10 a.m.); Bradley vs. Marysville (10 a.m.); Hilliard Darby vs. Pickerington Central (10 a.m.); Lancaster vs. Groveport, Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep and Erie (Pa.) Villa Maria Academy (11 a.m.); Olentangy vs. Jerome (10 a.m.); Olentangy Liberty vs. New Albany (10 a.m.); Reynoldsburg vs. Orange (9 a.m.); Scioto vs. Davidson (9 a.m.); Thomas Worthington vs. Buckeye Valley (9:30 a.m.); Upper Arlington vs. Pickerington North (8 a.m.); Worthington Christian vs. KIPP Columbus, Northridge and Williamsport Westfall (10 a.m.); Zanesville vs. Grove City, Hamilton Township and Independence (10 a.m.)
Jerome vs. Hartley (7 p.m.); Orange vs. New Albany (6:30 p.m.)
Bradley vs. DeSales (6 p.m.); Centerburg vs. Columbus Academy (6 p.m.); Groveport vs. Thomas (7 p.m.); Lancaster vs. Central Crossing (7 p.m.); London vs. Ready (7 p.m.); Marion Harding vs. Delaware (7 p.m.); Northland vs. Franklin Heights (6:30 p.m.); Olentangy vs. Pickerington Central (7 p.m.); Westerville Central vs. Coffman (7 p.m.); Whitehall vs. Westerville North (7 p.m.); Zanesville vs. Walnut Ridge (6 p.m.)
Berlin vs. Chillicothe (7 p.m.); Bexley vs. Watkins Memorial (7 p.m.); Big Walnut vs. Teays Valley (7 p.m.); Buckeye Valley vs. Lexington (7 p.m.); Canal Winchester vs. Pickerington North (7 p.m.); Centennial vs. Worthington Christian (7 p.m.); Cincinnati St. Xavier vs. Gahanna (7 p.m.); Darby vs. Marysville (7 p.m.); Davidson vs. Findlay (6 p.m.); Eastmoor at Whetstone (7 p.m.); Grandview vs. West Jefferson (6 p.m.); Grove City Christian vs. KIPP Columbus (7 p.m.); Hamilton Township vs. Licking Valley (7 p.m.); Huber Heights Wayne vs. Upper Arlington (7 p.m.); Johnstown vs. Independence and St. Charles (5 p.m.); Kilbourne vs. Grove City (7 p.m.); Liberty Union vs. Briggs (7 p.m.); Marion-Franklin vs. Beechcroft (6 p.m.); Newark vs. Westerville South (7 p.m.); Northridge vs. Watterson (7 p.m.); Olentangy Liberty vs. Scioto (7 p.m.); Westland vs. Africentric (7 p.m.)