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High School Football: Five games to watch in Week 1

Ready or not, and most of us are ready, another high school football season is set to kick off this week. Once again this season we will be checking out the games to watch every week, and there are plenty of good ones on the schedule in Week 1.

Alter at Fairmont, Thursday, Aug. 23

The Firebirds snapped a string of 12 straight losses to the Knights on the field last season (Alter won the 2008 game but had to forfeit that win).

»RELATED: Week 1 power rankings

Fairmont returns plenty of weapons from a team that finished 7-3 and lost in the first round of the Division I playoffs. Braden Miller is back at quarterback and Jesse Deglow is a 1,000-yard rusher who scored 15 touchdowns.

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»RELATED: GWOC National East football preview

Alter won nine in a row after the 13-12 loss to Fairmont. The Knights were upset by CJ in the first round of the D-III playoffs after beating the Eagles 34-6 in Week 10.

»RELATED: GCL Co-Ed North preseason preview

The good news/bad news for Alter? Missouri commit Conner Bazelak returns for his senior season at quarterback, but running back John Bivens will likely not play this season. Bivens rushed for 1,308 yards last season before he injured his knee in Week 9 and isn’t ready to return.

»WATCH: What do Firebirds do for an encoure?

Madison at Franklin, Friday, Aug. 24

The Mohawks made an impressive run to the D-V state semifinals last season and coach Steve Poff has plenty of that team returning. Those returnees are led by running back Cameron Svarda, who rushed for 1,940 yards and 26 touchdowns.

»RELATED: SWBL Buckeye preseason preview

Franklin was also a playoff team; the Wildcats lost at home to New Richmond in the first round in D-III.

»RELATED: SWBL Southwestern preseason preview

Franklin returns junior quarterback Braden Woods, who finished up the 2017 campaign after an injury to Braden White. Woods is being challenged by senior Jake Bowermaster in preseason camp.

Bellbrook at Tippecanoe, Friday, Aug. 24

These are two teams who are no strangers to the playoffs, but neither was invited to the party last season. Tipp (4-6) opened with a win at home over the Eagles last season, but the Red Devils lost four of their final five games.

Bellbrook has a lot back from a team that finished 7-3.

»RELATED: GWOC American North football preview

Among them is three-year starting quarterback Brendan Labensky and 1,000 yard runner Justin Sloan. Senior Hayden Bullock will anchor both sides of the Eagles line.

Trotwood-Madison at Winton Woods, Friday, Aug. 24

How’s this for a season opener? The defending D-III state champion (Rams) against the D-II runnerup.

Trotwood ran the table last season, but the Rams have some holes to fill. They’ve had two guys battling for the quarterback job this summer. But whoever starts will have plenty of weapons.

»PODCAST: Mike Hartsock talks to Trotwood coach Jeff Graham

One of those targets is 6-foot-6 tight end Justin Stephens, who is getting plenty of looks from Division I colleges.

Mechanicsburg at Kenton Ridge, Friday, Aug. 24

Mechanicsburg lost in the second round of the D-VI playoffs to Spencerville last season. The Indians (8-3) were young last season and return a lot of talent, including junior quarterback Logan Hurst, but somebody needs to step up and fill the shoes of graduated runningback Dustin Knapp.

»RELATED: KR tops Northeastern in Jamboree

Kenton Ridge will also counter with a junior quarterback. Dylan Lemen passed for 1,613 yards last season.

The Cougars (6-4) have their sights set on returning to the playoffs in 2018.

For highlights and scores every Friday night, join me on Touchdown 7 at 11:13 p.m. on WHIO-TV.

Mike Hartsock takes a closer look at Kenton Ridge football

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