It's the opening week of football in the Buckeye State and the FOX19 Friday Prep Rally makes it way to Sycamore High School as the Aviators play host to the Withrow Tigers.
Both teams have questions that need to be answered and have been working hard all offseason to get to this game. Sycamore front man Scott Dattillo has his Aves flying under the radar and poised to surprise many inside the GMC. New head coach Jim Place got a late start at Withrow, but he has hit the ground running. Picking up a Week 1 victory would be huge for either team.
We look ahead to Friday night's matchup:
WITHROW (0-0) AT SYCAMORE (0-0)
Site: Sycamore Stadium, Bud Acus Alumni Field
Kickoff: 7:30 PM
TV: Tune in to LIVE pregame show on FOX19 @7:00 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Withrow wide receivers Dionte Riley and Sean Middlebrooks both have the skills to play at the next level. Sha'khil Kelly has all the tools to have a big year at running back for the Tigers and is one of the team's finest playmakers. Michigan-bound tight end A.J. Williams is a monster up front for the Aviators. Quarterback Kyle Sess is back under center for Sycamore after earning Second-Team All-GMC honors as a junior.
TEAM TRENDS: The two teams have met three times since 2004 with the Aviators winning each match-up, including last season's tilt by a 27-12 margin. Sycamore has earned a Week 1 victory in five straight seasons dating back to 2006. The Aviators' offense finished second-to-last in the GMC last season in total yards (220.7 ypg) and points scored (18.0 ppg). Withrow enters the matchup winners of their last six games. The Tigers have dropped three of their last four season-opening games.
WITHROW'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Tigers were decimated by graduation on defense and will need some big efforts right out of the gate by some inexperienced players. Place will look to take some pressure off of the unit by controlling the time of possession and keeping the chains moving on offense. Withrow will need to get sharp play at the quarterback position and limit their mistakes. Taking care of the football is a must as they can ill afford to lose the turnover battle.
SYCAMORE'S KEYS TO VICTORY: By getting on the scoreboard early, the Aviators can immediately put some pressure on the young Tigers and get the home crowd behind them. They have a distinct advantage in size up front and need to wear down Withrow by pounding the football on the ground. Sycamore's front-seven is the strength of their defense. If that group can get consistent pressure on the quarterback, it will be a long night for the visitors.
PREDICTION: SYCAMORE 27 WITHROW 14
*Written by: Dan Clasgens, TriStateFootball.com