Ryle at Cooper: Battle for Union kicks off high school football season

It's that time of year again.

Time to fire up the fans, school busses and, of course, the Friday night lights.

Ohio has to wait a week, but for areas all over Indiana and Kentucky the high school football season begins Friday night.

WCPO sports anchor Ken Broo was at Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky for the 2014 opener.

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Cooper is restocking the proverbial pond for a second straight season.

This school struggled to a 3-8 season in 2013, after finishing as runner-up in the Kentucky 5-A state championship race the year before. This year's roster is deep, but young and still learning. And they face a tough lesson Friday night against the Ryle Raiders.

On the other side of the ball, the Raiders face their own learning curve, especially with a new quarterback starting under center and a new head coach pacing the sidelines. That could level the playing field a bit.

"He wants to run a lot of plays, a high-tempo offense," Cooper head coach Randy Borchers said of his counterpart, Mike Engler. "They are balanced pass and run and they try to keep you on your heels and show a lot of different looks."

Borchers, who has been the head coach at Cooper for several years, feels like his defense matches up well with the Raiders' attack as long as they "don't get too fancy."

But X's and O's, depth charts and season expectations don't really matter when Cooper and Ryle get together. After all, they're playing for the pride of their city.

“People do hype up this game a lot just because its the only two schools in the same district of Union and they say its a battle for Union so we got to fight for it,” said Cooper safety Cole Hicks.

The Raiders have had the Jaguars' number in recent years, winning five of the last six meetings. But it's been a close series. Two of their last three wins over the Jags have been by just seven points, including last year's 17-10 win at home. It was one of the Raiders' two wins all season.

Borchers said the outcome of the game Friday night will come down to who wants it more.

“A lot of these kids on both rosters are good friends outside of football, but the night of the game those kids do not like each other and they have a lot to prove to the other team so come Saturday morning, its bragging rights,” he said.

While Ryle-Cooper is sure to be a good one, it's just one of many games Friday night in Kentucky and Indiana. Scores from all of those games can be found on WCPO’s Tri-State High School Football Scoreboard .

Make sure to check out WCPO.com and 9 On Your Side news all weekend for highlights.

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