(WTOL) - It's been more than eight months since high schools across the country took the field under the Friday night lights.
Two-a-days are now over. The green grass is freshly cut with white lines and numbers painting the field. The players themselves are itching to hit someone in a different colored jersey.
WTOL is covering several different games throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan to kickoff the season on Big Board Friday on WTOL 11 and the Big Board app.
The marquee game features two teams representing not just their schools, but their state.
While the Toledo War is considered a bloodless duel between the Ohio and Michigan territories, football players from both Ohio and Michigan spilled their fair share of blood to represent their state. This time around, it will be St. John's crossing the border to take on Bedford.
Bedford finished their 2016 campaign with a 9-3 record that included a trip to the playoffs.
The Kicking Mules played played consistently throughout 2016, with their two regular season losses coming by a combined three points.
However, they lost 17 seniors and have a lot of holes to fill including the quarterback position.
While Bedford has to replace 17 seniors, St. John's replaced their coach.
Coach Larry McDaniel takes over a Titan squad that finished 6-4 (including a win by forfeit) that has not made the playoffs since 2010.
McDaniel says his defense will be a strength, but the Titans gave up more than 35 points in each of their losses last season.
Whitmer is headed eastward to take on Glen Oak.
The Panthers surprised many observers by going 8-3 and hosting their own playoff game. While Central Catholic is not doubt still the favorite in the conference, Whitmer is expected to be even better this year.
Sophomore quarterback Riley Keller leads the Panthers offensively. His already a highly touted recruit and hopes to be one of the best in the state. Keller put up more than 1,700 yards last season with 17 touchdowns. However, he also threw six interceptions, mistakes he will need to avoid if he were to be Glen Oak.
Glen Oak comes into the game following a disappointing 6-5 season. While the Golden Eagles did sneak into the playoffs, they lost in their first round match up.
They will have to patch up their defense however, as they gave up more than 30 points in all but one of their losses.
One of the biggest contests between two northwest Ohio teams is Bowling Green's short travel north to Rossford.
The Bulldogs finished their 2016 season 6-4. They were highly productive offensively, scoring at least three touchdowns in all but one game. However, Rossford will have a ton of inexperienced youth on the team with only four returning starters on the team.
Rossford will be looking for revenge against the Bowling Green after the Bulldogs lost their opening game against the Bobcats 34-25.
Meanwhile, Bowling Green finished their 2016 campaign 7-4, that included a trip to the playoffs. However, the Bobcats had the lead in each of their regular seasons losses, only to let that slip away.
The Bobcats were not decimated by graduation as other teams, but they will have to replace their quarterback under center.
Other games featured on Big Board Friday this week are:
- Coffman @ Perrysburg
- Ottawa-Glandorf @ Eastwood
- Anthony Wayne vs. St. Francis (Glass Bowl)
- Clyde @ Start
- Northview @ Waite
- Bowsher @ Maumee
- Clay @ Rogers
- Hilliard @ Findlay
- Sandusky @ Port Clinton
- Springfield @ Fremont Ross
- Central Catholic @ Bishop Hartley