UPPER DUBLIN — The first game of a scholastic football season can be a measuring stick of sorts for the coaching staff, for veterans building on the success of the previous campaign or bouncing back from an off-year, and for the less experienced players to get an opportunity to find their niche on the roster.
Although the conference schedule is where teams cut their teeth against bitter rivals, dueling a non-conference opponent is a good test to show what kind of mettle and resolve a team in the genesis of the regular season is tasked with.
As a coach, you don't want your team to get off to a cold start. And as a player, you don't want to step back into the locker room with a bitter taste of defeat.
The cohesive goal is always the same — victory, and nothing else.
To begin the 2014 season, Upper Dublin High will travel down to The Sunshine State to do just that, shine on the football field with hopes of landing in the win column in its opener against Florida's Coconut Creek High on Aug. 29 at 9 p.m.
The Cardinals will literally take flight as they venture down to the Walt Disney World Resort to play in the KSA Kick-Off Classic against the Cougars, a team that finished 5-5 overall, and 3-4 in 6A District 15 play a year ago.
"Yeah, it's a cool experience as a senior coming into my last year going and going to Disney,' expressed receiver Matt Thompson when asked about the trip to the park "Where Dreams Come True.'
"I have never been there, actually, so it should it will be fun.'
For followers of the Upper Dublin football program, the news of playing the first game of the season in Florida is a wrinkle from recent tradition.
For the past four consecutive seasons, the Cardinals battled Central Bucks West in the inaugural game, but UD head coach Bret Stover noted that both teams were looking for a change of scenery.
"We were looking at it for a couple years, and this was just kind of the best year it fell to do it,' Stover explained.
Had Upper Dublin played another iteration of the perennial opener against the Bucks, it would have furthered the contract between the two schools another two years.
"We broke our contract with CB West, (the Bucks) wanted to pick up CB South for their opener because CB South moved up. It was just a logical place to do it.
"Coconut Creek is an outstanding high school. They've got four or five Division-I commits on their squad ... I think it's going to be a good contest for us,' Stover said.
A good contest indeed.
The state of Florida touts some of the best high school talent that football has to offer, so a competitive game should fit the bill.
"We look for a team we can be competitive with No. 1,' Stover added. "We saw some teams on tape that we could have gotten a short W, but that doesn't help you in the points chase.
"With us having to play a AA and two AAA (schools), we need all the (Distrcit 1 power) points we could get so we needed to find a AAAA equivalent, which is what we did down there.
"It'll be a good test for us and we'll find out where we are in a hurry, and the heat will be another factor down there that we have to worry about,' Stover said.
With the trip to Disney pending for another two and a half weeks until camp breaks, Upper Dublin will be wishing upon a star for a winning start to 2014.