Believe it or not, it is time to take a look at the upcoming season in Ohio high school football.
First, though, we will reflect on last season's state champions. They were Cincinnati Elder (Division I), Dayton Chaminade-Julienne (II), Columbus Watterson (III), Kenton (IV), Marion Pleasant (V) and Mogadore (VI).
Over 700 prep football teams will begin the 2003 campaign over the weekend of Aug. 21-23. The playoffs will open Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and will culminate in the state finals, set for the weekend of Nov. 28-29 in Canton and Massillon.
Here is a look at the key games for the first weekend of Ohio high school football, followed by a look at when OSU's two out-of-state verbal commitments will open their season.
Week 1 (all games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted)
There will be two days worth of games at the Crosstown Showdown at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. On Thursday night, Roger Bacon meets Princeton at 6 p.m. with defending Division I state champion Elder meeting Winton Woods at 8:15 p.m.
Then on Saturday, there will be five games on the card at UC. Hamilton, with OSU verbal DB Brandon Underwood, tackles LaSalle at 10 a.m. Colerain meets Boone County, Ky., at 3 p.m. Anderson and Moeller square off at 5:30 p.m. and Covington (Ky.) Catholic and St. Xavier meet in the 8 p.m. finale.
The season begins in central Ohio with the Kickoff Classic Thursday night at Crew Stadium. Pickerington and Reynoldsburg begin the fun at 5 p.m., followed by Dublin Scioto and Hilliard Darby at 8 p.m.
Austintown Fitch, with OSU verbal WR Miles Williams, hosts Youngstown Chaney.
Cleveland Benedictine with RB Ray Williams visits Warren Howland.
Dublin Coffman hosts defending Division III state champion Columbus Watterson.
Carrollton, with OSU verbal TE Chad Hoobler, visits Navarre Fairless.
Defending Division II state champion Dayton Chaminade-Julienne visits Clayton Northmont.
Cleveland Glenville, with DB Ted Ginn Jr., visits Mentor.
Warren Harding, with top junior Mario Manningham, hosts Cleveland South.
Hubbard, with OSU verbal DB Shaun Lane, hosts Parma Heights Holy Name.
Defending Division IV state champion Kenton visits Coldwater.
West Chester Lakota West, with OSU verbal OL Steve Rehring, hosts Mason.
Toledo Rogers, with WR Fred Davis, visits Holland Springfield.
Columbus DeSales travels to Worthington Kilbourne.
Huber Heights Wayne, with LB Marcus Freeman, hosts Cincinnati Oak Hills.
Xenia, with OSU verbal OL Ben Person, hosts Troy.
Defending Division V state champion Marion Pleasant, the state's only 15-0 team a year ago, opens at Belleville Clear Fork.
Defending Division VI state champion Mogadore visits Delphos St. John's in a battle of small school state powers.
Cleveland St. Ignatius, with DE Mike Massey, hosts Westerville South at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lakewood Stadium.
OSU Verbals Outside Ohio
OL Jon Skinner of Mount Carmel, Pa., will open his season Aug. 29 against Pius the 10th.
QB Joe Bauserman of Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln will open his season Sept. 5 at Tallahassee North Florida Christian.