With both coming off losses to fall to 1-2, the Columbus Academy and Whitehall football teams are looking to get back on track in the MSL-Ohio Division opener Friday, Sept. 20, at Academy.
The Rams won last year's meeting 37-23 on their way to winning the league title at 5-0, ahead of runner-up London (4-1), which now plays in the Central Buckeye Conference.
"We told the kids (the) preseason is over, so now it's time for league play," Whitehall coach Rod Lightfoot said. "Our goals are still intact and our kids know that. We'll learn from (a 49-14 loss to Dublin Scioto on Sept. 13) and hopefully those moments don't repeat themselves."
The Vikings finished third in the league last year at 3-2.
"It's always exciting to play people you're familiar with and begin league play," Academy coach Robin Miller said. "We only have four home games and the guys should be excited to play, but that does nothing for us Monday through Thursday. That's when the real work happens. That's when it's decided if we win or lose on Fridays, so we'll see how we decide to prepare this week and what our focus, effort and attitude is."
The Vikings lost at London 48-7 on Sept. 13, as they were limited to 104 yards of offense while allowing 457. Quarterback Brady Hess had 38 yards rushing and Carter Warstler had 35 yards receiving and a touchdown.
"We looked at film and it was ugly," Miller said. "We didn't want to look at too much of that. It was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking. We were not competitive."
Miller hopes his team bounces back against the Rams.
"We're certainly capable of it," he said. "We did it at the end of last year and it was too little, too late, but we know the heart that we have in our room. We know the potential and the talent that we have and what we should be capable of doing. It's super simple, we just have to make the decision to do it."
Academy won its final three games last season to finish 6-4 overall.
Whitehall's loss to Scioto spoiled its home opener in its renovated stadium. Ni'Kai Cameron passed for 152 yards and a touchdown, Christian Gordon scored on a 29-yard run and a 20-yard reception and Charles Miller had 48 yards receiving.
"Whitehall is 1-2, but this is an extremely dangerous team," Miller said. "They've always done a good job of reloading. They've always had athletes at the skilled spots and they've always had big boys up front. They had a lot of seniors (last season), but those younger players that they had waiting in the wings watched and learned from those great classes."