And not just because temperatures are expected to top out at a little over 90 degrees earlier in the day.
Many of the players expected to play significant roles in the latest backyard gridiron clash between Cedar Crest and Lebanon will be seeing their first extensive playing time as varsity football players come Friday evening. The fact that they'll be doing so under the bright lights that accompany each Cedar Bowl only figures to increase the amount of sweat on their respective brows.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing in the opinion of fourth-year Cedar Crest head coach Tom Waranavage, who'll be trotting out a largely different cast of characters than the ones who were routed in the previous two Cedar Bowls on the way to back-to-back disheartening 1-9 seasons.
Yes, there will undoubtedly be some frayed nerves and feelings of anxiety leading up to kickoff, but better that than a too-calm-cool-and-collected approach.
This is the Cedar Bowl, after all.
"I would hope that they would feel that way regardless of who they're playing," Waranavage said. "I think it is a little more special because it is against those guys (at Lebanon). At the end of the day, though, once the first snap's out of the way, it's just time to go play.
"But until the lights go on and you get that first snap out of the way I would imagine every one
"I think it's gonna be very interesting," Lebanon boss Gerry Yonchiuk said of how the lack of experience on both sides could impact the contest. "The lights are gonna go on and there's gonna be some kids out there that either played freshman ball last year or weren't varsity starters. No one can tell how that's gonna go.
"Both teams are gonna make mistakes, you just want to make fewer mistakes than they do."
Among the first-year starters the Falcons will be relying on to change their Cedar Bowl luck are senior quarterback Nick Cascarino, senior running back Erickson Gonzalez and a small squadron of receivers and slot backs that includes promising freshman Evan Horn. Senior center Steve Galbraith is back to anchor the offensive line, but most of his colleagues up front are new to the glare of the spotlight.
It's much the same story for the Cedars, who went 3-7 a year ago, save for dual-threat junior quarterback Mark Pyles and his vast array of skills, and speedy junior running back Jeremy De La Cruz. They'll be the experienced guys fronting an offense that includes an almost entirely new group of receivers and a largely untested
Pyles' production Friday night, or lack thereof depending on the ability of Crest's defense to contain him, is definitely something that will impact the proceedings.
If the highly-regarded Pyles is scampering through the Falcons' secondary on a regular basis, it will likely be a very long night for the visitors from South Lebanon. But if Cedar Crest can keep Pyles in the pocket and make him rely on his still raw receivers to make plays for him, it stands a chance of reversing the recent Cedar Bowl, which has not only seen Lebanon win two straight but also five of the last seven backyard battles.
"I think we have to make him throw to beat us," Waranavage said. "We have to tackle him, which is not the easiest thing to do. He's a good football player. At the end of the day, if they beat us and they beat us because he threw the ball effectively, we'll shake the kid's hand. If he can run the ball effectively for four quarters, it's gonna open up everything else that they want to do."
"Mark's gotten a lot of preseason hype, and deservedly so," Yonchiuk said of Pyles, who also figures to have a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball from his strong safety spot. "Now he has to go out and prove he's that type of player. Because of his skills, he can take over a game. I'm hoping he can get the hot hand and move us offensively."
But, of course, it will take significant contributions from more than one player from either side if it hopes to emerge from Cedar Bowl XLI in victorious fashion.
And in the end, the difference could well be made by one of the many previously unheralded players that will take the field on Friday night. If so, then maybe the advantage shifts to Cedar Crest.
"With our younger guys, the thing I like is they're playing because they can play," Waranavage said. "We're not playing them because we have to play them."
Either way, as usual, the winners will feel like world-beaters late Friday and the defeated side will have their chins dragging on the ground for a while.
"It's big, sometimes maybe too big," Yonchiuk said of the significance of the Cedar Bowl to the combatants. "You could have a letdown, either way. And this year, I believe it's a toss-up, and that's not bulletin-board stuff. I think it (the outcome) is a roll of the dice at this point."
Also on tap for opening week:
Northern York at Palmyra, 7 p.m.
It's a brave new world for the Cougars as they attempt the magic trick of following their most memorable season in four decades with an undermanned and largely unheralded 30-player squad.
That's not a knock on Palmyra, which qualified for the District Three playoffs for the first time in its history last season and knocked off mighty Manheim Central in triple OT in the opening round. It's just an acknowledgement of the changes the Cougars are going through at the moment.
No longer blessed with Jon Hicks to swallow up ballcarriers or Preston Bare to race through opposing defenses, Palmyra will have to get everything done by committee this season while moving up in class to the Mid-Penn Keystone Division.
But first comes a new opening-week opponent in the Polar Bears, who replace Annville-Cleona as the first test for the Cougars after A-C bowed out of its four-decade-plus rivalry with Palmyra.
It's not an easy way for the new-look Cougars, who've still got senior Mason Laudermilch at the QB spot and three starters back on the O-line, to begin, but it'll have to do.
Northern went 5-6 a year ago and slipped into the postseason with the help of senior back Elijah Locke, a big-play type who piled up over 1,100 yards and averaged more than seven yards a pop last season. Needless to say, Palmyra will have to find a way to - you guessed it - lock up Locke if it hopes to start 2012 off in style.
Tri Valley at Annville-Cleona, 7 p.m.
Maybe A-C should have kept Palmyra on the schedule, given the potential difficulty of this opening-week matchup. Sorry, had to say it.
Moving right along, the Little Dutchmen figure to be improved, with a ton of returning players anxious to redeem themselves after a 1-9 showing a season ago. But they will be in for a scrap right out of the gate with the Bulldogs coming to town.
Tri-Valley, a Class A program, was an unimpressive 3-7 last year, but is bursting with returning starters, including a go-to back in senior Blake Bowman. That's a concern, especially considering A-C had all sorts of problems on defense in 2011.
Game within the game: Should be interesting to see how A-C coach Terry Lehman incorporates two quarterbacks - junior Mitch Rodkey and Elco transfer Anthony Pletz - into the offense. If that all goes well, the Little Dutchmen could pose some problems for opposing defenses. We'll see.
Northern Lebanon at Pine Grove, 7 p.m.
You might not be able to tell the players without a scorecard - or in this case, a program - in this one, given the massive graduation losses suffered by both squads.
The Vikings, now in their third year with Roy Wall at the helm, will have a completely new look with their option attack with the trio of Tanner Dresch, Colton Ryan and Ryan Daub gone, and Pine Grove is in pretty much the same boat skill position-wise.
The Cardinals, coming off a sparkling 9-2 season, said goodbye to an even more formidable trio in quarterback Nick Todero, feature back Cameron Conrad and big-play wideout Larry Zimmerman, so they can relate to the Vikes' current predicament.
And that makes this a really even game on paper. Tough one to call.
The Vikes, though, will be playing with a heavy heart and perhaps added motivation after equipment manager Jeff Daubert passed away earlier this week following an illness. Daubert, also an assistant track and field coach at the school at one time and a longtime coach with the Lebanon Cowboys midget team, worked with NL football for much of the last decade under both Wall and former head coach Jack Beidler.
Hamburg at Elco, 7 p.m.
It certainly will be strange to see the Raiders take the field without Mark Evans leading the way, but a new era will officially begin on Friday when head coach Robert Miller's tenure kicks off in Myerstown.
Elco's somewhat chaotic offseason has been well documented - Evans departed for Manheim Township in June, Miller only took the reins in early July, and incumbent QB Pletz is now at Annville-Cleona - but with three solid weeks of practice under their belts, the Raiders should be reasonably ready to go by the time their opponent from northern Berks County arrives.
Hamburg is coming off a 4-6 2011 that included a 38-15 Week 1 beatdown of the Raiders.
Elco, meanwhile, went 3-7 a season ago and has an evolving quarterback situation with standout running back Cameron Strause moving to QB to replace Pletz.