Opening with familiar foes

Traditional opponents on tap for area teams

By Chris Miles -

It’s been nearly 10 months since we last had Madison County high schools playing football on a Friday night, but the long drought ends Friday, Aug. 28, when all four county teams open the 2015 season.

Only one county team (West Jefferson) made the OHSAA state playoffs last season, but all four schools enter this season looking to improve on their finish from 2014.

West Jefferson at Mechanicsburg, 7 p.m.

Two schools with dedicated and loyal fan bases, two football programs with long histories of success and two teams that know a win over the other in their annual season-opener will go a long way in helping it to reach its state playoff goal.

“Our opener is pretty special,” West Jeff coach Shawn Buescher said. “Both programs are so successful and high expectations. When you start with a game like this there’s no room for error.

“There are great fans and great kids on both sides. Both communities provide great support. We’re almost a mirror image of each other, it’s a perfect match to open the season.”

West Jefferson won last year’s contest 21-14, in a game between two squads who made the postseason.

Marysville at Jonathan Alder, 7 p.m.

Technically Jonathan Alder and Marysville high school’s aren’t in the same county, but make no mistake about it, the fans, players and coaches on both sides definitely see this week’s annual clash as a neighborhood rivalry game.

“It’s definitely a rivalry and playing them seems to bring out the best in us,” Alder coach Brett Glass said.

Alder dropped a hard-fought 27-20 decision at Marysville a year ago.

Madison-Plains at Cedarville, 7 p.m.

Two seasons ago when MPHS coach Jason Hunt took over the head coaching duties at his Alma Mater he had right around 25 players total in the program, now the coach has more than double that number.

When his team travels to Cedarville, the coach will see a team with even fewer bodies than what he saw that first year. The Indians have roughly 22 players in the program and will likely have a tough time keeping up with the Golden Eagles who are now bigger and deeper than their annual Week 1 opponent.

“Their coaching staff always does a good job of having them ready to play,” Hunt said. “We know they’re really limited numbers wise, but we know they’re all going to play hard.”

Expect Plains to let starting quarterback Jake Vallery, a senior who is beginning his third year as the starting signal caller, to be the centerpiece of the offense. MPHS won last year’s game 21-18.

London at Urbana, 7 p.m.

The Red Raiders are hoping this is the season they take a major step forward on the gridiron, the climb back toward respectability starts with a trip to Urbana.

The Hillclimbers have held the upper hand in this annual contest for a while now, winning the last five games. The last three have gone in their favor in a major way, by the scores of 43-14, 64-3 and 65-14.

London coach Kyle Cutler, who is in his second year at the helm of the program, hasn’t been around long enough to say whether or not there’s a rivalry between the two schools, but knows enough about what Urbana brings to the table.

“Is it a rivalry? I don’t really know,” he said. “The proximity is great and there’s great attendance and support from both communities. I do know that they’re a quality program and they do things the right way. We’re looking forward to competing with them.”

Chris Miles can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
Traditional opponents on tap for area teams

By Chris Miles