Updated Wed, Aug 27, 2014 1:52 pm
Anticipation and excitement is running through every Ohio high school football team this week because the wait for the new season is finally over.
Thursday night marks the start of the 2014 football season in Ohio, and the Alexander Spartans welcome in the Federal Hocking Lancers for another SPACER trophy rivalry game.
This will be the third-straight year that Alexander and Federal Hocking have met in the season opener, with the Spartans winning both previous games.
Last season the Spartans dominated the Lancers 38-14, which ended up being the only win of the season for the Spartans, as they lost the next nine games, while Federal Hocking finished with a 5-5 record.
However, both teams will have a different look this season starting with new head coaches. Alex Penrod is in his first year as the coach of Alexander after being an assistant at Gallia Academy in 2013, and Craig Moore takes over at Federal Hocking after being an assistant on the Lancers staff for the past several seasons.
Even though it is his first game as Alexander’s head coach, Penrod expects the pressure to be the Spartans’ biggest challenge, which is typical for the season-opener.
“We need to control our energy and our enthusiasm,” Penrod said. “We’re one of the first teams in Ohio to play in 2014, but we need to make sure we let the other team come to us.”
A large crowd is expected in Albany on Thursday evening, as the two schools are separated by just a 30-minute drive.
“With two Athens County teams coming together, I expect all of our fans and other teams to come out and experience what [both teams] are bringing this season,” Penrod said.
Even with the thrill of the season kickoff at the forefront, Alexander doesn’t plan to lose site of the reality behind the opening match.
“The first game of the year is important, but it isn’t an end all,” Penrod said. “We obviously want to come off with a win, but we’re going to treat it like every week where we want to go 1-0.”
Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
'Gridiron Glory' airs every Friday night at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #GridGlory.