Marietta High has won three straight season openers with as many head coaches since its rivalry with Morgan High was renewed in 2009.
First-year Tiger football boss Adam Eichhorn is hoping that trend continues when the orange and black play the host Raiders at "The Pit" in McConnelsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"We have been fortunate the last couple years to come out ahead against Morgan," Eichhorn said. "Those games just as easily could have gone the other way."
In last year's game, Marietta, which finished with a 2-8 overall mark under interim coach Bob Springer, downed Morgan 29-14 at Don Drumm Stadium.
"Morgan is a very well coached team that isn't going to try and do anything flashy," Eichhorn continued.
Morgan is coached by Nate Smith, who guided the Raiders to a 1-9 overall record in 2011. Morgan plays in the always-tough Muskingum Valley League.
"They have their system and they run it well," Eichhorn said. "They know what works for them and what their kids are capable of.
"We have to focus on identifying those trends and force them out of their comfort zone."
Morgan is expected to be quarterbacked by 5-foot-9, 145-pound junior Kyle Earich. Austin Campbell, 5-7, 155, figures to get many of the handoffs in the backfield.
"Morgan is one of those teams that run the Wing-T, which is hard to prepare for sometimes as far as what they do, because they'll also spread it out and be in the I-formation," said Marietta defensive coordinator Lucas Stanton.
Marietta's base defense will be the 4-4. At least four or five Tigers are expected to start both ways.
Like Morgan, Marietta will also be starting a junior at the QB position in 6-1, 175-pound Anthony Kimbrough. In a preseason scrimmage against Ripley of W.Va. at Don Drumm Stadium, he threw two touchdown passes to Quinton Coffield.
But in the Tigers' exhibition against visiting John Marshall of W.Va. last Friday night, the offense sputtered and was blanked.
"For us, we have to be able to learn from our first three scrimmages (Marietta also played at Athens.) and continue to improve on our technical game," Eichhorn said. "We feel our guys have made the gains in our physical play and intensity. We just have to combine that with sound fundamentals."
One of the keys in the season opener will be the play of the Marietta offense line. How these people perform in the trenches will help determine the productivity of Chance Wright, Coffield and Kimbrough, the Tigers' go-to guys.
Marietta's offensive line includes Cogan Bishop (left tackle), Jonnie Hedrick (left guard), Eddie Kimbrough (center), Tanner Leach (right guard), and Will Cogswell (right tackle).
With three preseason scrimmages under its belt, Marietta had the normal bumps and bruises. Even Coffield, the team's speedster, got banged up a little bit in the John Marshall exhibition.
"We are getting back to full strength," Eichhorn said. "Still have a couple of guys working through some lingering injuries. Quinton (Coffield) is doing fine."
Notes: Morgan has not enjoyed a winning season since posting a 6-4 mark in 2007...Marietta has not had a winning campaign since its one and only postseason playoff run in 2002...Look for Marietta junior Anthony Kimbrough to be on the gridiron a lot Friday as quarterback on offense, cornerback on defense and punter on special teams...Luke Black was Marietta's line coach until he received a phone call last Friday from the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League. Black will be playing in his first preseason game as a pro defensive end against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday.