FORT LORAMIE — A new era will begin with a familiar opponent for Fort Loramie.
The Redskins will host rival neighbor Minster to open the season on Friday in Fort Loramie. The schools have played in Week 1 each year since Fort Loramie added football in 2005.
The Redskins haven’t beaten the Wildcats in Week 1 since 2013 but will try to end that streak under first-year coach Spencer Wells.
Wells didn’t need much introduction to Minster. The Wildcats’ success since Geron Stokes took over the program in 2014 has caught the eye of every casual football follower in West Central Ohio — which is bound to happen when a team makes state finals three times in four years.
Minster, which is coming off its second state championship in the last four seasons, is made mostly of new starters this year. The team is without two-year starting quarterback Jared Huelsman and running back Isaac Schmiesing, who accounted for the bulk of the team’s yards in last year’s Division VII title run.
From the scrimmages Wells has seen in person and the film he’s watched, he doesn’t expect Minster will look too different to spectators.
“The thing that stands out is that they’re physical,” Wells said. “They have athletes and they’re well-coached. It’s really what you would expect watching the film. We’ve spent a lot of time breaking it down, and these guys know what they’re going up against. We feel good about our preparation, and we feel like we’re ready to go Friday.”
Fort Loramie lost to Minster in a season opener and a regional quarterfinal in 2017. Wells said that hasn’t come up in preparation.
“This game, with (the towns) being so close, I don’t think they need to look back to get motivated,” Wells said. “I think every time these teams play, there’s going to be a lot of motivation on both sides. They know all the guys they’re going against. I think that pretty much serves as motivation.”
Unlike Minster, Fort Loramie returns the bulk of its players from last year, including 12 letterwinners. The Redskins will be without quarterback Austin Siegel and running back Mike Hoying, who graduated.
With many fast returning athletes and a new spread scheme installed, Wells is hopeful Fort Loramie will again be among the most prolific scoring Cross County Conference squads.
He’s liked what he’s seen from the team’s offense in scrimmages, including one at Spencerville last Thursday. He also said the scrimmage served as a good tuneup for the defense.
“Spencerville’s a really nice team,” Wells said. “They’ve got a great defense and gave us a really physical look. After going against more of a spread team in Elida (on Aug. 10), I think it benefited us going up against a team that just wants to run the football at you and be physical. We think that’s something we can expect as we go throughout our season.”
Anna at Middletown Fenwick
After some struggles in a scrimmage against CCC power Covington last week, Anna coach Nick Marino said he’s liked how the team has picked up the intensity in practice.
Intense play will likely be what the Rockets need to earn a win in their season opener on Friday at Bishop Fenwick. The Falcons, which play in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division, were 6-4 a year ago and have 20 seniors on their roster.
“I’m pleased with what our guys did this week in practice,” Marino said. “They did increase their physicality in practice, and we’re hoping to see that carry over into the ballgame.
“…They’re always a lot of guys that have to answer some questions for you (in preseason). That’s the point of scrimmages. We got some guys in there to see how they’d do in a Friday night situation. We’ve started to develop some depth, and we hope to continue that throughout the year.”
Fenwick’s returnees include senior quarterback Sully Janeck and Caleb Davis. Janeck threw for 607 yards and four touchdowns last year while splitting time with a running quarterback. Davis was the team’s second-leading rusher after accruing 625 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
“They’ve got some really good athletes that we’ve got to contend with and keep in front of us,” Marino said. “They have a running back who’s a really good ball player and a couple of good receivers. Their quarterback can throw it. They have a pretty large roster size, so we have a lot we have to compete with.”
Three of Fenwick’s top six tacklers return, including defensive end Sam Secrest, who had 65 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year.
Fort Recovery at Lehman Catholic
The Cavaliers lost to a Midwest Athletic Conference team in a scrimmage last Friday and will try to open the season with a win over one this week.
Fort Recovery will travel to Sidney on Friday to take on Lehman at Sidney Memorial Stadium. The Indians lost MAC offensive player off the year Will Homan to graduation, but Lehman coach Dick Roll said the team has looked strong in preseason.
“They’re a typical Fort Recovery team,” Roll said. “They’re going to run the ball, they’re going to throw the ball, and they’re well-coached.”
Roll said Lehman’s scrimmage against Parkway was a mixed bag. He liked the play of most of the skill players — particularly returning quarterback Elliott Gilardi — but said a lot of improvement was needed on the lines.
Roll said the team is relatively healthy, and he’s hoping to gain a few more available players in the coming weeks. The Cavaliers have a 25-man roster this year.
Roll has yet to win a Week 1 game in his 13 years at the program’s helm.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.