This time last season, Tropical Storm Ernesto wreaked havoc with the first weekend of high school football.
With clear skies forecast for tonight and tomorrow, waterlogged fields should be a thing of the past - unless an absent-minded grounds crew leaves the sprinklers on overnight.
That said, let's get right to the selections. And, needless to say, this is for amusement purposes only. Possibly, if we have a horrendous first week of forecasting, it will be to the amusement of many.
Bensalem vs. George Washington, at Northeast, tonight at 6. After squaring off in Week 3 the last two seasons, the Owls and Eagles meet in the season opener this year. Washington won, 26-20, a year ago. Bensalem triumphed, 28-14, in 2005. In junior Gerry Davis, the Owls have a breakaway running back. Dylan Manni, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end and defensive end, will challenge the Eagles up front. Washington is sparked by quarterback Clinton Granger. Look for an upset.
Pick: Bensalem, 21-19
No. 4 Neshaminy at Coatesville, tonight at 7. After losing to St. Joseph's Prep in the last two season openers, Neshaminy kicks off the 2007 campaign against the Red Raiders. Neshaminy has a mobile quarterback in Justin Kinney, a strong rushing attack, and a bunch of aggressive defenders led by outside linebacker Jason Ulmer. Coatesville, as usual, is big up front. Mark Mounayar is a 6-2, 295-pound center and nose guard. The Red Raiders will have a new look on offense, using the veer option.
Pick: Neshaminy, 27-6
La Salle at Plymouth Whitemarsh, tonight at 7. La Salle leads the series, 5-3-1. The Explorers won last season's installment, 29-8. Prolific passer John Harrison and 6-5 wideout Joe Migliarese are back for the defending Catholic League Red Division champions. The Colonials, favored to win the Suburban One League's American Conference, have a potentially potent rushing game. Their defense features 6-2, 270-pound tackle D.J. Fox and middle linebacker Jamie Thomas.
Pick: La Salle, 29-21
No. 5 Conestoga at West Chester East, tonight at 7. West Chester East romped past the Pioneers, 33-13, last season. Expect a different result this time. The host Vikings lost a boatload of seniors. Conestoga, a good bet to win the Central League, returns quarterback Steve Richter and Nihja White, a 6-foot, 195-pound wide receiver who has been offered a scholarship by Northwestern. Doug Costin is East's new coach, replacing 20-year boss Joe Carroll. Costin's coaching debut will not be an enjoyable one.
Pick: Conestoga, 46-15
Unionville at Interboro, tonight at 7:30. Interboro, trying to win its 10th consecutive Del-Val League title, lost 10 offensive starters from an 8-3 team. Still, the Bucs will be as physical and gritty as ever. Keep an eye on running back/defensive back Dave Hallinan, a four-sport athlete timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Unionville is coming off an 8-3 season and will be powered by versatile quarterback Matt Carroll and 6-4, 315-pound two-way lineman Steve Caputo, a Division I-A recruit. Carroll runs for three touchdowns and the Indians should roll.
Pick: Unionville, 32-14
Other games to watch
Hatboro-Horsham at Pennridge, tonight at 7. Pick: Hatboro-Horsham, 19-14
Bishop Shanahan vs. No. 7 Cardinal O'Hara in Ocean City, N.J., tomorrow at 11 a.m. Pick: Cardinal O'Hara, 39-6
No. 9 Roman Catholic vs. West Catholic in Wildwood, N.J., tomorrow at 11 a.m. Pick: Roman, 22-13
North Catholic vs. Neumann-Goretti in Wildwood, N.J., tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Pick: North, 16-0