TriStateFootball.com kicks off its inaugural TSF Backyard Battle series with one of the Tri-state area's most heat rivalries, the "Battle of I-74". The East Central Trojans welcome the Harrison Wildcats to St. Leon in an early-season interstate clash.
Both teams have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the season ahead, but only one of them will be able to start the season with a victory.
We will be streaming the game live on TSF and look ahead to the match-up:
HARRISON (0-0) AT EAST CENTRAL (1-0)
Site: Trojans Stadium
Kickoff: 7:00 P.M.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: East Central junior running back Tyler Douthit ran for a career-high 219 yards in the Trojans' victory over Richmond in the opener. Classmate and linebacker Payton Stonefield leads a stingy defense that has allowed seven points or fewer eight times since the start of the 2010 season. Harrison receiver Kyle Nowlin is coming off a 56-catch, 987-yard and seven-touchdown campaign which earned him Division II, First-Team All-Ohio honors as a junior. Wildcats' linebacker Jake Tarvin was a Second-Team All-Southwest District member a year ago.
TEAM TRENDS: Harrison blanked East Central 25-0 last fall at Nippert Stadium. The Trojans are looking for payback in the Border War. This is the 35th meeting between the two schools. The Wildcats hold a 20-13-1 advantage in the series, including a 13-4-1 record at home. Harrison has won four of the last five meetings between the schools.
HARRISON'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The environment will be a tough as any new head coach Kent McCollough will face all season. His composure will have to spillover onto the field and his players if they are to steal a road win. An experienced offense that knows how to put points on the board gives Harrison a fighting chance all the way through this tilt.
EAST CENTRAL'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Trojans can ill-afford to have as many turnovers or penalties as they did in their Week 0 win over Richmond. There are plenty of reasons for motivation for both the offense and the defense. Getting over the mental hurdle of the Wildcats' recent dominance over them will be the biggest hurdle for East Central if they want to come away victorious.
PREDICTION: EAST CENTRAL 20, HARRISON 17
*Written by: Greg Shoemaker, TriStateFootball.com