On the heels of last season's unexpected run to the 7A quarterfinals, Northside's players have anxiously awaited carrying that momentum over.

That wait ends sooner than usual today, as the Grizzlies will be among the teams taking advantage of the inaugural Zero Week slate of games across Arkansas.

Northside kicks off the 2018 season with back-to-back home games in August, beginning with former 7A-West rival Rogers Heritage.

"I think our kids are excited, just the fact that we would be practicing this week for another week (if not for Zero Week)," Northside coach Mike Falleur said.

"Now obviously, it's still the first game and you're still going to make first-game mistakes, so whether it's this week or next week, I don't really think it matters. Our kids are excited, they've been excited all week about playing a game, so I think it's good; I'm excited about Zero Week."

The Grizzlies do have a bit of familiarity with their season-opening foe, as they had scrimmaged Heritage each of the past two seasons when the Grizzlies went from the 7A-West to the 7A-Central.

But even Falleur is uncertain what Heritage — which went 1-9 a season ago — will bring to the table in today's opener.

"I'm going to be 100 percent honest, I don't really know," he said. "We've gone off of our scrimmage with them last year, we're going off of some clips that we saw from a team camp this summer, maybe 15 or 20 at the most and that's it."

Another reason for Falleur's uncertainty is the new defensive coordinator Heritage hired in the off-season. That would be Scott Bethel, the former long-time Sallisaw assistant who had served the past four seasons as the Black Diamonds' coach.

Bethel had resigned from his coaching duties to focus on his work as Sallisaw's athletic director, which he had also been doing along with serving as coach. But Bethel has gotten back into the coaching realm with the move to Heritage.

"They've got a new defensive coordinator so we know they're changing defenses. ... We know he's from Sallisaw, so we've tried to watch some tape on Sallisaw," Falleur said.

"Is he going to do the exact same stuff? We don't know, so we've kind of prepared for a gamut of things and we'll just have to kind of adjust if it's different than what we think it's going to be during the game."

Last week, the Grizzlies held their only benefit scrimmage against Bentonville West, which posted a 24-14 win.

"I thought we did some good things," Falleur said. "We've scrimmaged twice against ourselves, so really tackling, that was the first time it was full-bore, just take everybody to the ground, so I thought our tackling's got to get better, which it will. We've got to run to the ball better on defense, which we tried to point that out to them.

"Then offensively, we did some good things but we also were inconsistent and did some things that hurt us, but one thing I was glad about was we didn't put the ball on the ground. ... A lot of good things but a lot of room for improvement."

At the moment, the Grizzlies are relatively healthy save for senior returning tailback Eli Bolton, who re-aggravated an ankle injury he suffered in the spring during last week's scrimmage. Falleur said Bolton will be a game-time decision.

Also today, the Grizzlies will officially unveil their new scoreboard at Mayo-Thompson Stadium, which was recently installed. The scoreboard is actually a giant video screen, which will include replays along with keeping the score and time.

"We're excited about that," Falleur said. "It's probably not going to be totally done with all the panels, but the main part of it is going to be up and working, so that's an added excitement and an added piece of equipment in an unbelievable stadium anyway that's just going to make your game experience that much better.

"I've been in a lot of stadiums, but I don't know if there's one better than Mayo-Thompson Stadium to watch or play a football game in, period."