The opening day of the high school football season has arrived and that in itself is a minor miracle.

You couldn’t find too many people a few months ago who thought there would be a season and leading the nay-sayers would be yours truly who really didn’t think it would happen.  The fact that it is has to be credited to coaches, players, athletic trainers and even parents who did all they could to keep programs as healthy and safe as possible.

Yes there have been bumps in the road but fortunately as of today those bumps have been manageable.  Of course all of us who care about the sport know that it would not take much for everything to come to a grinding halt.  As I have said for quite a while the way you’ll judge success this season is not necessarily by wins and losses but the number of games played.

The opening weekend in the Shore Conference includes 15 games tonight and six on Saturday.  There’s also a Monday night game between Toms River East and Jackson Liberty that was pushed back a couple of days because the Raiders dealt with COVID issues.

Unfortunately Ocean’s season-opener against Matawan has been postponed because the Huskies are dealing with positive test results as well.

Wall finished last season as the Shore Sports Network’s #1 team and they’ll start there again this fall. The Crimson Knights host Point Boro tonight.  Toms River North is #2 (where they finished in 2019) and the Mariners make the short trip across town to Toms River South for the latest installment in a rivalry that goes back to 1972.  Detweiler Stadium will look rather empty with only 500 spectators and those who don’t already have a ticket will not be getting in which is true throughout the shore and state.

However the Mariners-Indians contest is the Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week and will be streamed live for free on the Shore Sports Network as well as our app.

Among tonight’s other top games in Ocean County, Donovan Catholic hosts Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial heads to Neptune and Southern is home against Brick.

Eight teams have new head coaches and that group includes Brian Wilkinson at Manchester who visits Lacey tonight and Central’s Jarrett Pidgeon who must wait until Saturday to make his debut when the Golden Eagles travel to Lakewood.

Let the games begin!