The Eastmoor Academy football team is set to meet Harvest Prep for the first time in a decade on Friday, Aug. 30, at home, but 17th-year Warriors coach Jim Miranda has seen this type of opponent many times before.
"It's almost like preparing for Independence," said Miranda, whose team has defeated its City League-South Division rival each of the past 12 seasons. "If you don't prepare for their scheme, you get turned around. You've got to prepare for their unbalanced sets. (Harvest Prep coach) Milan (Smith) does a great job with his kids and motivates them well. They've been a traditional playoff team and he gets his guys going. They're well-coached."
Eastmoor won the last two meetings, defeating Harvest Prep 40-7 in 2008 and 54-0 in 2009.
However, Harvest Prep, whose nickname also is Warriors, has blossomed under Smith, who is in his sixth season leading the program. Harvest Prep has qualified for the Division VII playoffs each season under Smith, including last year when it went 11-1 and reached a Region 27 semifinal.
Eastmoor went 12-2 and was a Division III state semifinalist last season, but it features new players at almost every position.
The only returning starters who played key roles last year are seniors Cameron Long (RB/DB) and DaHan Franks (WR/LB).
Senior Demetrius Salley is expected to start at quarterback for Eastmoor, with seniors Julian Binford and Antonio Tatum, junior Cameron Foster and freshman Donovan Lewis joining Long at running back.
Harvest Prep won its first 11 games last season despite losing running back Javon Eggert in a season-opening 32-21 win over Bexley.
Eggert, who rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns against Bexley but missed the next eight games with a hip injury, figures to join seniors Khelin Jackson and Langston Perry, junior Rahshaun Goines and sophomore Jaylen Jennings in the backfield of what traditionally has been a run-heavy system.
Harvest Prep is four divisions smaller than Eastmoor but has about 40 athletes out this fall, which it hopes will help it handle a schedule that features three Division II and three Division III opponents.
"I'm excited," Eggert said. "We've got a whole bunch of new guys and we're just looking forward to the season."