Marietta High has defeated Morgan High in four consecutive football season openers since the series was resumed in 2009.
The Adam Eichhorn-coached Tigers would like nothing better than to continue that trend when they host the Nate Smith-led Raiders at Don Drumm Stadium Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"We have the advantage of playing at home, so we must get out of the gate fast and put points on the board," Eichhorn said. "The last three seasons, we have had to hang on to a close lead or come from behind in the second half. It would be a big step forward for us to be able to set the tone early and control the line of scrimmage on both sides."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta High sophomore John Henry, passing above in a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Meadowbrook, will be the starting quarterback when the Tigers host Morgan in a season and home opener at Don Drumm Stadium Friday night.
Morgan of course is hoping to halt that losing streak. Last year, the Raiders almost did in McConnelsville, but squandered a second-half advantage and dropped a 41-35 decision to the come-from-behind Tigers.
"We definitely have work to do this week in all phases to get prepared for Morgan," Eichhorn said. "Looking ahead to our opener against Morgan, we know we will see a very disciplined, well-coached team."
Morgan is also a team that suffered some key personnel losses in all-district fullback Justin Head transferring, and quarterbacks' Kyle Earich and Hayden Matheny both unable to play this fall due to injuries. Head and Earich each gave Marietta's defense fits in last year's contest.
As it looks now, either Michael Apperson or Mason Edgell will be taking center snaps, while Levi Barkhurst, Jerome Mayle, and Bruce Thompson are expected to get a lot of handoffs in the backfield.
"Morgan has stayed with the same schemes since I've been here, and they run them very well," Eichhorn said. "They run one of the best Wing-T, mid-line options I have seen, and we must be very disciplined defensively to stop it."
Defensively, Morgan appears to bend but not break. In a preseason scrimmage against visiting Warren, the Raiders recovered three fumbles, and intercepted two passes.
"I did get out to watch the Morgan/Warren scrimmage," Eichhorn said. "Just as we did the night before (at John Marshall), there were a lot of miscues in terms of penalties and fumbles. I was impressed with Morgan in terms of how hard they played."
Marietta will definitely miss standout hitman Kyle Bronski, a transfer to Parkersburg Catholic, but people like Garrett Davis, Chance Wright, Jonnie Hedrick, Cogan Bishop, and Spencer Frum like to mix it up pretty good on defense.
During the preseason, Marietta had mixed results, playing well against Wahama at Don Drumm and not-so well at John Marshall.
Against the White Falcons, senior Anthony Kimbrough and sophomore John Henry each looked sharp as a signal caller. Quinton Coffield, Matt Morris, Connor Beavers, Davis, Frum, and Wright all had productive outings.
But against the Monarchs, the Tiger offense was a little out of sync.
"We had a handful of mental miscues that we didn't have against Wahama, but those are correctable things," Eichhorn said. "I wouldn't say that any one person stood out, but our offensive backs ran hard all night and picked up some tough yards. Offensively, it is crucial for us to control the game with our line."
Some of those Tiger people in the trenches who are being counted on are Alex Hogan, Tyler Ritchie, Zach Hearn, Ryan Lutz, Bryan Lutz, Morris, Bishop, and Hedrick.
Against Morgan, Henry will be getting the starting nod at QB as Kimbrough "is not available Week 1," Eichhorn said.
"We are hoping Anthony will be ready to go for the Warren game (Week 2)," the coach added.
Offensively, too, Marietta also has a weapon in kicker Brent Huck, who has good field goal range. All the Tigers have to do is block for him.
Overall, on the Marietta/Morgan game....
"On paper, we match up pretty even in terms of numbers and size," Eichhorn said. "What needs to set us apart is our attitude and execution."