COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — High school football returns to Ohio on Friday, which means another season of Football Friday Nite, with first-year sports director Joe Nugent.

Central Ohio is loaded with talented players, and 16 made the cut for FFN’s preseason team.

QB Tavien St. Clair, Bellefontaine

Bellefontaine junior Tavien St. Clair is one of two quarterbacks to make the preseason team. St. Clair is a 2025 Ohio State commit who’s a four-star prospect and the No. 13 ranked quarterback in the class of 2025, according to 247Sports.

“First [goal] is a state championship. We’ve never been, so that’s that’s the number one goal this year,” St. Clair said. “I just say put my teammates out there as well. We’ve got a lot of good skill and a lot of talent on our football team this year, and I want to showcase that.”

QB Ethan Grunkemeyer, Olentangy

Olentangy senior Ethan Grunkemeyer, a Penn State commit, threw for more than 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. He’s the No. 13 ranked quarterback in the country, according to 247Sports.

“It’s a blessing to have my name part of that list,” Grunkemeyer said. “I have to give it to my teammates and coaches for having given me the ability to throw the football around.”

RB Diore Hubbard, Gahanna

Gahanna running back and West Virginia commit Diore Hubbard led the Lions to the school’s first regional championship since 1982. As a junior, Hubbard rushed for 25 touchdowns, 2,365 yards and added 23 receptions for 296 yards and four TDs. 

“You can’t get complacent what we did last year,” Hubbard said. “That’s a whole other team. That’s a whole other guy last year. I’ve just got to come out and show that I’m still the best.”

RB Nate Severs, Big Walnut

Big Walnut senior and Air Force commit Nate Severs has been a key part of the Eagles’ offense since his sophomore season. Severs had 37 touchdowns and more than 2,700 yards in 2022.

RB Sam Williams-Dixon, Pickerington North

Ohio State commit Sam Williams-Dixon is getting ready for his first and last season at Pickerington North after transferring from Millersburg. He scored 41 touchdowns at West Holmes last year and will boost the Panthers’ offense, which is also led by quarterback Landon O’Connell.

WR Taizaun Burns, East

East junior Taizaun Burns had a standout sophomore season, leading the Tigers to their first playoff wins while making first-team All-Ohio.

“I like leading my team. I like I like having [that] weight on my back,” Burns said. “I don’t like putting my team through no complicated situation, so I feel like I put all the stress on my shoulders.”

LB Garrett Stover, Big Walnut

Big Walnut senior Garrett Stover, the cousin of Ohio State tight end Cade Stover, is also headed to the Buckeyes after his high school career. Stover is the No. 2 ranked player in Ohio and No. 12 ranked linebacker in the country for the class of 2024, according to 247Sports.

Stover finished with 92 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two sacks and seven pass breakups despite missing three games because of injury.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work in the offseason,” Stover said. “I feel good, a lot more fluid. And I’ve added some weight and kept my speed up.”

TE Gavin Grover, Olentangy

Olentangy senior Gavin Grover will play for the University of Cincinnati, continuing the program’s long line of talented tight ends, including two-time Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce.

TE Tayvion Galloway, Pickerington Central

Pickerington Central tight end Tayvion Galloway joins the Tigers for his senior year after transferring from Chillicothe. He’s considering offers from several schools in major conferences after decommitting from LSU.

“I want to show I’m the best in the nation,” Galloway said. “That’s what I believe I am, and I want to continue to prove that to everybody that follows me.”

DE Elijah King, Gahanna

Gahanna senior and Rutgers commit Elijah King anchors a Lions defense that lost Kamari Burns, who plays for Cincinnati, and Jaden Yates, who plays for Marshall. King is a force up front and will lead a Gahanna team looking to defend its central Ohio regional title.

“I feel really blessed and really thankful for the opportunity to be able to play for [Rutgers],” King said. “I just feel happy. I’m always excited. I’m excited to be out there and play for them.”

OL Jake Grimm, Gahanna

Gahanna senior Jake Grimm has committed to the Toledo Rockets. He’s part of an offensive line that helped Diore Hubbard rush for more than 2,300 yards last season.

OL Jaden Ball, Bloom-Carroll

Bloom-Carroll senior Jaden Ball is one the best linemen in the state and will play for Purdue. He’s part of a team that made it to the Bulldogs’ first state championship last season.

OL Justin Terry, Pickerington Central

Pickerington Central senior and West Virginia commit Justin Terry will anchor a defense that enters a new era under first-year coach Jeff Lomonico, who’d been the defensive coordinator for 20 years.

DL Demetrius John, Coffman

Dublin Coffman senior and Illinois commit Demetrius John is the No. 30 ranked player in Ohio for the class of 2024, according to 247Sports.

 “A lot of coaches have said I’m sideline to sideline. I don’t really think I give up on any plays,” John said.

DL Cameron Gwinn, St. Francis DeSales

St. Francis DeSales senior Cameron Gwinn is committed to Boston College, continuing the tradition of Stallions playing at the high college level.

K Spencer Conrad, Olentangy Berlin

Olentangy Berlin kicker Spencer Conrad is a secret weapon for the Bears. Conrad was first team all-Ohio as a junior, hitting 33 of 34 point-after attempts while averaging more than 40 yards per punt.

“How much time it really takes to master a craft? It’s just like any other position,” Conrad said. “It’s not you go out one day and just master it. It definitely takes time.”