The 2013 Three Rivers Athletic Conference football season kicks off on Thursday, August 29 when the St. John’s Jesuit Titans host Cleveland Heights in the annual Old Newsboys Kickoff Classic high school football benefit game at Lyden Field.

Last year’s state Division I runner-up Whitmer along with Clay, Findlay, and St. Francis de Sales begin their seasons by going head-to-head against opponents from the Northern Lakes League on Friday, August 30 while Fremont Ross hosts Sandusky.

Lima Senior travels south to Cincinnati to play Fort Mitchell (KY) Beechwood High School in the 16th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown on August 30.

Defending state Division II champion Central Catholic heads north to Detroit to open their season against Warren (MI) De La Salle Collegiate in the Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University on Saturday, September 31.

Central Catholic, which returns 11 starters from its championship team last year including Notre Dame-bound quarterback DeShone Kizer, was picked to finish first in the pre-season TRAC football coaches poll. The Fighting Irish garnered 48 voting points including six of eight first-place votes to nudge past Whitmer, which received the remaining two first-place votes and 44 total points. St. John’s Jesuit was predicted to place third in the conference followed in order by Findlay, Clay, St. Francis de Sales, Fremont Ross, and Lima Senior.

In addition to new players stepping into roles that were vacated by graduated seniors, two new coaches will make their TRAC debuts. Mike Lee takes over the football program at Clay football following in the footsteps of Mike Donnelly who resigned the coaching position to dedicate more time to his role as the school’s athletic director. At Lima Senior, Mike Fell, a 1979 graduate and former All-Ohio quarterback for the Spartans, takes over the coaching reigns after the school failed to renew former head coach Brett Lee’s contract following a 0-10 season last year.

On June 13, 2013, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) announced its divisional realignments for the 2013 and 2014 football seasons expanding the number of divisions for postseason tournament play to seven from six.

With the new divisional realignments, the Three Rivers Athletic Conference will feature teams competing in Division I through DIII. Findlay and Whitmer are the lone schools to remain in the Division I grouping. Dropping from DI to Division II are Clay, Fremont Ross, Lima Senior, St. Francis de Sales, and St. John’s Jesuit. Central Catholic, which claimed the state Division II title in 2012, will move to Division III status and are expected to contend for another state championship.

The first week of TRAC conference play features a marquee matchup between Whitmer and Central Catholic. In the final game of the 2012 regular season, the Panthers routed the Fighting Irish 42-0 at Gallagher Stadium to capture the conference title. Although the Irish rebounded from the loss to go on and win the state DII championship, Central Catholic would like nothing better than to avenge their only loss last year.

In another rivalry game that traditionally occurs later in the season St. John’s Jesuit and St. Francis de Sales, will square off against each other in the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium.

The Toledo Blade published its 2013 football previews on August 28. Each team is featured with along with top players, schedules, and prognostications for the new season. Click on the school name to view the previews for a particular school.

Central Catholic

Clay

Findlay

Fremont Ross

Lima Senior

St. Francis de Sales

St. John’s Jesuit

Whitmer