The high school football season begins today on a summer evening.
It ends the first weekend of December when teams play for South Jersey and state titles.
The football season passes quickly. Teams accumulate power points through the first eight games to determine who qualifies for the playoffs. Schools earn power points based on their wins and their opponents' records.
Each game can decide whether or not a team makes the postseason.
Here's a preview of this weekend's action (Last season's record in parentheses).
Middle Township (2-8) at St. Augustine Prep (4-6)
7 p.m. today (online at www.hermits.tv): This game marks the debut of new coaches. Mark Reardon takes over St. Augustine and Frank Riggitano, who coached Middle for much of the 1990s, returns as the Panthers' coach. St. Augustine features standout skill-position players in running back Calvin Cass and wide receiver Justyce Pollitt. Zack Vogelei is a standout fullback and linebacker for Middle.
Cedar Creek (4-5) at Ocean City (2-8)
7 p.m. today (98.7 FM): This is Cedar Creek's first CAL conference game. The Pirates feature quarterback Damon Mitchell, who has verbally committed to Georgia Tech University. Mitchell ran for 937 yards and threw for 803 yards last season. Safety Chris Gabor leads an Ocean City defense that will try to slow the Pirates.
Bridgeton (6-4) at Lower Cape May Regional (5-5)
7 p.m. today: Both teams are young and inexperienced. Running back Frank Ziegler, who rushed for more than 700 yards last season, shifts to quarterback for Lower Cape May. Bridgeton returns sophomore running back Stefon Bowman, who rushed for 722 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman.
Buena Regional (2-8) at Vineland (3-7)
7 p.m. today: These schools located a few miles from each other played often in the 1990s. Buena returns seven starters on offense and seven on defense. Luv'Uan Scott emerged as one of the area's top running backs with 805 yards on 152 carries as a sophomore last season. Chris Atoki makes his first varsity start at quarterback for Vineland.
Egg Harbor Township (4-6) at Oakcrest (5-5)
7 p.m. today (94.3 FM): EHT is a veteran team with Kenny Doughty at quarterback and Matt Clayton at fullback and linebacker. Oakcrest features linebacker Brandon Bell, who has verbally committed to Penn State. These teams haven't played since 2009, when EHT won 21-0.
Millville (11-1) at Atlantic City (6-4)
7 p.m. today: This is a matchup of playoff teams the past two seasons. Millville has won two of the last three meetings. Millville graduated a number of standouts, but Rutgers University has offered defensive tackle Antoine White a scholarship. Atlantic City has dynamic skill-position players in wide receivers Dayshawn Reynolds and Demond Cottman.
Absegami (5-5) at No. 1 St. Joseph (10-0)
Noon Saturday: St. Joseph has won 18 straight games and three consecutive state titles. The Wildcats are No. 1 in The Press Preseason Elite 11. Absegami features a pair of the area's best skill players in running back David Hood and wide receiver Tyler Bing.
Mainland Regional (5-5) at Pleasantville (0-10)
7 p.m. today: Mainland lines up seniors everywhere, most prominently Tom Bradway at defensive back and Ryan Brenner and Colin O'Shea at linebacker. Pleasantville plays mostly sophomores but does have senior Hassan Calloway at running back.
Lacey Township (4-6) at Pinelands Regional (0-10)
7 p.m. today: After a rare losing season, Lacey seems poised again to be one of the best teams in Ocean County and compete for a South Jersey title. Running back Kyle Spatz rushed for 1,279 yards last season. Pinelands relied mostly on young players last season. Lacey beat Pinelands 53-0 last year.
Barnegat (7-4) at Holmdel (1-9)
7 p.m. today: There's not much that Pat Moran doesn't do for Barnegat. He excelled at wide receiver, defensive back and kicker last season. He should start at quarterback tonight, while the Bengals wait for Holy Spirit transfer Cinjun Erskine to become eligible. Barnegat beat Holmdel 27-6 last season.
No. 8 Southern Regional (8-2) at Freehold Township (2-8)
7 p.m. today: Southern is No. 8 in the Elite 11 and the defending Shore Conference A South champion. Rutgers University has offered a scholarship to Southern junior wide receiver Mike Gesicki. While Gesicki was expected to start at quarterback tonight, last season's starter Dan Higgins has recovered from a preseason shoulder injury and will play.
West Jersey Football League
Cumberland Regional (4-6) at Deptford Township (4-6)
7 p.m. today: Cumberland hasn't won a season opener in at least nine years. The Colts won two of their last three games last season. Colts running back De'Han Milledge rushed for 961 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore last season. Cumberland beat Deptford 21-7 last season.
Clayton (2-8) at Wildwood (2-8)
7 p.m. today: Wildwood beat Clayton 28-13 last year. Wildwood senior running back and linebacker Wesley Hills may be one of the region's most underrated players. He rushed for 1,294 yards and made 60 tackles last season.
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