With temperatures expected to reach the mid- 90s on Friday, it promises to be a warm evening for the opening week of the high school football season.
New turf fields will open at Union as the Wildcats host Poplar Bluff and also at Owensville, where the Dutchmen welcome Borgia.
There are no conference games among area teams during the opening week.
The Massey Ratings predictions return this season.
Washington at St. Clair
The Blue Jays and the Bulldogs enter the season in similar circumstances.
Both teams look to replace their three-year starting quarterbacks lost to graduation.
Washington returns three starters on offense and seven on defense from last season’s 6-5 team.
St. Clair returns two starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s 10-2 squad.
Both teams will rely on a senior running back-linebacker who wears No. 44, Kyle Summers for Washington and Skyler Hutchison for St. Clair.
The leading candidates to take over the quarterback duties for the Blue Jays are senior Christian Hardesty and junior Isaac Lippert.
Juniors Collin Scott and Damon Arnold are in the running to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs.
Both teams feature players with a limited amount of varsity experience, so limiting mistakes and executing plays will be a key element to the game.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — St. Clair 40, Washington 26.
Borgia at Owensville
After going winless last season, Owensville looks to open its new turf field in style against Borgia.
The Dutchmen return five starters on offense and seven on defense from last season’s 0-10 team.
Senior defensive end Ryan Escalante is the team’s top returner after making The Missourian’s All-Area third team last year.
Jesse Lowder moves into the quarterback position and will operate from the pistol offense.
The top running backs are Kiowa Wright, Matt Pohlmann and Nick Plocinski.
Borgia looks to rebound from last season’s 4-6 team.
Junior Justin Baylard will be the quarterback. Senior Josh Kleekamp, one of seven full-time seniors on the team, is a key player at linebacker and running back. Junior Drake Raftery is in the mix to see time at quarterback, running back and defensive back.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — Borgia 48, Owensville 14.
Poplar Bluff at Union
The Wildcats should have plenty of motivation for their season opener.
Not only will it mark the first game on the new turf field, but Union also is looking for revenge after a 33-0 loss last season at Poplar Bluff.
Union returns 10 starters on offense and nine on defense, including junior quarterback Blake Hulsey, from last season’s team that went 5-5.
There are plenty of receiving targets for Hulsey, including junior Logan Bellamy and seniors Jacob Carman, Jake Siddens and Jobie Richardson.
The Mules of Poplar Bluff, who competed last week at St. Clair’s jamboree, feature a sophomore quarterback in Kameron Misner.
Running back Bi Nguyen got a lot of work at running back during the jamboree.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — Union 16, Poplar Bluff 14.
De Soto at Pacific
With seven starters on both sides of the ball back this season, Pacific hopes to rebound from a 2-8 campaign in 2012.
Leading the offense is junior quarterback Eain Roberts, who started the final seven games last season.
Seniors Tanner Brown and Chris Klenke and junior Josh Vondriska are other weapons on offense.
Senior offensive tackle-linebacker Jeff Hinkle is a key returner on both sides of the ball.
Among some of the other top linemen on the team are seniors Allen Fitzgerald, Scott Roberts and Dalton Mathis.
Junior Dalton Voyles, a returning starter at running back and linebacker, is expected to miss the opener with an injured ankle, but hopes to be back in either the second or third week.
Indians Head Coach George Hinkle reports that De Soto has a physical team with good size, a solid quarterback and a productive running attack.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — De Soto 27, Pacific 21.
Park Hills Central at Sullivan
Sullivan hopes to continue the momentum it built from last season’s team that won Four Rivers Conference and Class 4 District 3 titles.
New head coach Andy Arnette, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator last season, returns three starters on offense and five on defense from last year’s team that went 12-1, losing to eventual Class 4 champion Webb City in the state quarterfinals.
Leading the way is senior Justin Biermann, an all-state running back last year who moves to quarterback this season.
Other returning starters are senior Jeremy Stumpe on the offensive and defensive lines, senior fullback and linebacker Caden Weigl, senior running back and linebacker Joey Rigdon and junior running back and defensive back Michael McDermott.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — Sullivan 34, Park Hills Central 14.
Montgomery County at Hermann
Hopes are high for a breakthrough season for the Hermann Bearcats, who return nine starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s 4-6 squad.
Senior quarterback-defensive back Craig Winkelmann is one of the team’s top returning starters.
Other key players include senior Saige Hale and juniors Jarrod Kolbe and Jordan Leicht, all at running back and linebacker.
Montgomery County will be a major test out of the blocks for the Bearcats.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — Montgomery County 38, Hermann 27.
Cuba at St. James
Two teams looking to turn the corner in 2013 meet in St. James.
The Tigers return six starters on both sides of the ball from last season’s 3-7 team.
Running back-defensive back Jesse Hays, a senior, is the top returner for the Tigers. Receiver-defensive back Cody Birkner is another key player.
Cuba returns five starters on offense and four on defense from last year’s 1-9 team.
Austin Burlage is a player to watch at running back and linebacker.
MasseyRatings.com Projection — St. James 28, Cuba 14.