What happened during the City League title race last season still irks the Northland boys soccer team.
The Vikings tied Mifflin for first in the City-North Division, but lost the tiebreaker for the right to advance to the City championship game, where West beat the Punchers 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium.
"Hopefully, we're going to win the City this year," said first-year coach Mahamoud Samantar, who served as an assistant last season. "Mifflin has got a couple good guys, International looks pretty good, Centennial looks very decent this year. We've got a lot of kids and a lot of young kids."
Northland was 3-2-2 overall after opening league action Sept. 12 with a scoreless tie against Beechcroft. The Vikings faced Mifflin on Sept. 17 and play host to Linden-McKinley on Thursday, Sept. 19, and Whetstone on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
There are about 60 athletes in the program, according to Samantar, with senior midfielders Jose Garcia and Mohamed Amin and senior fullback Eugene Boahen being the top returnees.
Other key players include senior winger D'Angelo Gomez, sophomore midfielder Roland Now, junior forward Prajal Tiwari and junior winger Praladh Upre.
Entering the week, Northland had earned victories over West (2-1 on Aug. 15), Central Crossing (6-1 on Aug. 22) and Marion Harding (7-1 on Sept. 9).
Cougars to face Tigers in City-North opener
The Beechcroft football team will look to continue its superiority against East when it visits the Tigers on Friday, Sept. 20, in a City-North opener.
The Cougars have defeated East each of the past 16 seasons, although the Tigers closed the gap last season, losing 15-12 after falling 41-0 in 2017, 54-0 in 2016 and 44-6 in 2015.
Beechcroft dropped to 1-2 with a 40-6 loss to Walnut Ridge on Sept. 13, while East enters the matchup at 2-1. The Tigers opened with a 22-7 loss to South on Aug. 30 but defeated KIPP Columbus 32-6 on Sept. 6 and West 42-6 on Sept. 13.
East improved from 1-9 in 2017 to 4-6 last fall.
Against West, the Tigers' Deo Samuel Pierre rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score.
"Last year, we were definitely on the right track," Tigers coach Wes Edwards said. "We've got some seniors that have started since they were sophomores. We're taking it one week at a time."
Two City-North teams looking to turn around their fortunes after getting off to 0-3 starts will meet when Mifflin plays host to Northland on Sept. 20.
After going 8-2 last season, the Vikings have been outscored 169-7 over their three games, including a 76-0 loss at Westerville Central on Sept. 13.
The Punchers opened Aug. 30 with a 64-0 loss at Walnut Ridge. They then hung with Chillicothe before falling 27-14 on Sept. 6 before losing to Harvest Prep 30-0 on Sept. 13.
Scots, Warriors among City-South openers
Two of the City-South's premier football programs over the past decade will face each other to open league play when Eastmoor Academy plays host to Walnut Ridge on Friday, Sept. 20.
The teams have split their last eight meetings, with the Warriors winning 26-20 last season when both teams made the playoffs.
Eastmoor lost to Granville 33-0 on Sept. 13 to drop to 1-2 and Walnut Ridge improved to 3-0 with its win over Beechcroft.
Eastmoor opened Aug. 30 with a 13-12 victory over Harvest Prep before losing to two teams that are 3-0 in St. Charles (19-16 on Sept. 6) and the Blue Aces.
Against St. Charles, quarterback Demetrius Salley hit wide receiver Chamon Turner for a 70-yard touchdown and running back Cameron Long ran for a 2-yard touchdown.
Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox has put an emphasis on cleaning up mistakes as the Scots look to start 4-0 for the third consecutive season.
Against Beechcroft, quarterback Howard Thornton completed 16 of 23 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns, Qian Magwood returned a punt 65 yards for a score and Aaron Clark, Kaveon Ross and Damien Whaley each had a touchdown catch.
Running back Javarus Leach missed most of the game with an injury but is expected back for the league opener.
"It was a good game," Mattox said. "We came out and played well. We've been penalized the last couple weeks pretty heavily and want to eliminate that with Eastmoor coming (this) week. We have to play a lot better discipline-wise."