Some fun in the sun on opening weekend

Two Southeast Pennsylvania matchups will head to the Jersey Shore tomorrow to get the 2008 season under way.

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Quarterback Curtis Drake will lead No. 8 West Catholic against Roman Catholicin the season opener tomorrow in Wildwood, N.J.

Ever since the early 1980s, when Father Judge took on St. John Neumann in Wildwood, we've enjoyed the opening-weekend football excursions to the South Jersey Shore.

We get to frolic in the sun and sand again this year, with two goodies on tap tomorrow: Archbishop Carroll vs. Cardinal O'Hara in Ocean City and West Catholic vs. Roman Catholic in Wildwood.

Carroll-O'Hara starts at 11 a.m., and West-Roman begins at noon. The truly enthusiastic football fan can catch all of the Carroll-O'Hara matchup, then drive south on the Parkway to catch the tail end of the West-Roman tilt at Maxwell Field.

We'll start our 2008 forecasting campaign with those two games. Last year, we went 9-2 in Week No. 1 and finished with a 112-35 record (.762 winning percentage). No promises, but we believe we can better that mark this season.

Archbishop Carroll vs. No. 5 Cardinal O'Hara. This first-time Jersey Shore matchup features two of the area's best quarterbacks: Carroll's Luke Wischnowski and O'Hara's Tom Savage. Both squads have imposing offensive lines. The difference here is the rushing of the Lions' Corey Brown, a junior and Division I-A prospect.

Pick: O'Hara, 24-16.

No. 8 West Catholic vs. Roman Catholic. The Cahillites have won the last two meetings and lead the War at the Shore series, five games to two. The Burrs' electrifying backfield is powered by quarterback Curtis Drake and running backs Raymond Maples and Rob Hollomon, both fresh off 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Roman, under first-year boss Joe McCourt, was hit hard by graduation.

Pick: West, 26-21.

Interboro at Unionville, 7 tonight. The Bucs, 10-time defending Del-Val League champions, will go as far as wideout Shawn Krautzel and quarterback Jim McMenamin take them. The Indians, seeking to retain their Ches-Mont League American Division title, have 10 starters back on defense. Their potent ground game is led by halfbacks Greg Carroll and Chase Kriza and fullback Jon Gill.

Pick: Unionville, 33-20.

No. 3 North Penn at Bethlehem Liberty, 7 tonight. The Knights started last year with a 17-7 victory over St. Joseph's Prep. The key for another opening win is slowing down the quick-footed Hurricanes. Liberty has a pair of speedy 6-foot-4 wideouts: Pittsburgh recruit Devin Street and Jarrod West. North Penn, inexperienced up front, must also contend with 6-3, 312-pound lineman Levi Brown, who recently committed to Temple.

Pick: North Penn, 17-14.

Other games to watch:

Norristown at Northeast, 6 tonight. Pick: Norristown, 14-8.

La Salle at Plymouth Whitemarsh, 7 tonight. Pick: La Salle, 30-6.

George Washington at Bensalem, 7 tonight. Pick: Bensalem, 19-13.

Frankford at Hatboro-Horsham, 7 tonight. Pick: Hatboro-Horsham, 26-7.

Archbishop Ryan at No. 6 Pennsbury, 7 tonight: Pick: Pennsbury, 20-0.

Father Judge at Council Rock North, 7 tonight. Pick: Judge, 24-14.

Downingtown East vs. Lansdale Catholic, noon tomorrow at Wissahickon. Pick: East, 23-12.


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 215-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com.