BEAVERCREEK — The Backyard Battle once again kicks off the year as Xenia travels to Beavercreek in the opening game of the 2022 season.
Road teams until recently had the upper hand in the series, which stands at 11-9 in favor of Xenia. The home team has won both of the last two meetings, but failed to get the win in nine of the previous 10 games before it.
Beavercreek is looking to announce itself as a stronger player this season, while Xenia has an early chance to get not only big computer ranking points for its the postseason chances, but more importantly showing itself if defensive woes from a year ago are ready to be put in the rear view mirror.
Jaxen Lewis and Jamell Smith will led the Bucs defense against Beavers quarterback Spencer Johnson and his skill options of Adi Hernandez, Nick Oxner and Quentin Youngblood. On the other side, CJ Crawford and his defense has the task of trying to stop a versitle Xenia offense. Gavin McManus has a plethora of passing options with a 1-2 punch of Trei’Shaun Sanders and Ramon Browdell in the backfield to compliment them.
The game also is the first meeting between the team head coaches who share a close past.
Harden is beginning his second year in charge of the Bucs, and on the other side it’s the first game for new Beavers head coach Marcus Colvin.
Both most recently shared time together on the same coaching staff at Chaminade Julienne before taking their new positions.
Harden said Colvin as a “great human being” in describing their relationship. The two made their way out to each other’s final scrimmages last week and snapped pictures together while assuredly getting in some extra scouting in preparation for Friday.
“There’s a lot of pride that comes along with it,” Harden said. “It’s a rivalry game. I’m playing against one of my greatest mentors in life.”
The winning team will have the rivalry trophy presented to it by Beavercreek mayor Bob Stone and Xenia mayor Sarah Mays.
Bellbrook at Tippecanoe
These two teams met twice last season with Bellbrook winning both times in the regular season opener and the postseason. But not a lot of familiar faces will see one another on Friday with both sides replacing many starters.
Defense is where Bellbrook wants to keep up its focus and it will be an important group as Tipp does have two key returners which were top performers in the MVL.
Liam Poronsky is back at quarterback for the Red Devils after a 17 touchdown, 1,400-plus yard season and he has a big target at receiver in Stanley Clyne who stands 6-foot, 3-inches, but doesn’t have much experience after not playing last season. On the other side of the ball, Josh Dietz made 95 tackles last year, including a 20 tackle game against the Golden Eagles.
The game will be played at Butler High School while Tipp’s stadium is undergoing construction.
Middletown Christian at Cedarville
Cedarville had to quickly find a new opening opponent after Fayetteville Perry canceled its football season in early August.
Enter Middletown Christian, which had the same issue after initially scheduling Bradford which also canceled its season. The Eagles only offer a club team and the game will not count toward the playoff rankings for the Indians.
Middletown Christian typically faces several other varsity teams each season and has held its own, so it could be a good test for Cedarville’s new schemes.
Get ready to call out “Jackson” a lot, as three of Cedarville’s most prominent players share the first name.
Fairborn at Tecumseh
An initial glimpse of how the Skyhawks plan get more physical this season will be on display in the trip to Tecumseh.
Dominique Johnson looked like one of the best athletes on the field during scrimmages for Fairborn and may need to take pressure of quarterback JT Smith. Michael Wardle also got time taking snaps.
The Arrows went 4-6 last season and return quarterback Nate Cory and leading rushers Lucas Berner and Josiah Botello this season. A run heavy offense will be the task for the Skyhawks defense to halt.
Tecumseh won a game between the two teams to open the 2021 season 41-14 at Fairborn.
Greeneview at Middletown Madison
The reigning OHC South champions will get its season underway at Madison, which went 0-10 last season.
Greeneview will need to lean on its experience after having to cancel its second scrimmage last week and missing out on game action. The Rams have plenty of it and shouldn’t take long to shake off any rust.
The Mohawks return a balanced attack this season, but are young with most of their returning leaders being sophomores and juniors. Brady Haas completed just under 50 percent of his throws in nearly 200 attempts. Kwenton Rhodus is the leading rushing coming back and Kaleb Miller is coming off a 27 reception freshman season.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.