Less than a month remains until the 2016 high school football season kicks off, but why wait for foot to meet ball when we can talk a little pigskin now?
Below are the five must-see games of the first half of this upcoming schedule, including an annual rivalry bout, non-conference clashes and one or two contests you may not expect.
Here's to football. We're almost there.
Palmyra at Camp Hill, Aug. 26
You can bet the Cougars have had this one circled for a while, and with good reason. Last year, Camp Hill handed then 6-0 Palmyra its first loss - a 28-24 decision in a battle of unbeatens at Buck Swank Stadium - that propelled the Lions to the Mid-Penn Capital Division title.
The Cougars, who nevertheless went on to secure a District Three Class AAA playoff berth, won't have to wait long for their shot at redemption, visiting Camp Hill for their season opener with a talented squad that includes senior running backs Alon Rhette and Carl Reigle, tight end/defensive end Mason Cooper and wide receiver Peter Robertson.
Cedar Crest at Lebanon, Sept. 2
The 45th edition of the Cedar Bowl will unfold at Alumni Stadium, as Lebanon looks to snap a four-year losing skid against the Falcons. Both programs must reload in the trenches, where Cedar Crest mauled the Cedars en route to a 41-7 victory last season. That win, of course, helped set the table for a record-breaking fall in Falcons country. If Lebanon aims to make its own history in 2016, pulling off a season-opening upset would be a terrific start.
Palmyra at Elco, Sept. 9
An intriguing matchup on paper the last few seasons, the annual Palmyra-Elco brawl has turned out to be just as interesting on the field, with the two evenly-matched programs producing some highly entertaining battles.
This year should be no different, as Elco looks to avenge two consecutive defeats to the Cougars, including last season's 30-22 loss at Palmyra.
Check out the running backs in this one, for sure, as the Raiders look to pound workhorse Tyler Horst at the Cougar defense and Palmyra does the same with Rhette and Reigle when it has the ball.
Northern Lebanon at Cedar Crest, Sept. 9
Fresh off consecutive Section Three titles, the Vikings will travel south to Falcons country, where the blue and gray have moved down to Section Two. For the second straight season, Northern Lebanon will be operating offensively with a new quarterback; this time being junior Michigan Daub. How well he adjusts to a fast defense that at times punished Section One opposition last year could set an early tone at Earl Boltz Stadium. Meanwhile sophomore gunslinger Logan Horn returns for Cedar Crest, looking to improve on his strong close to 2015.
Annville-Cleona at Elco, Sept. 23
Want to know how much the little things matter?
Last year, this cross-county rivalry came down to a missed PAT in overtime and then a miraculous 4th-and-14 touchdown completion for the Raiders that set up an eventual game-winning PAT. Now playing host in this year's showdown, Elco can't rely on Jeff Martin to pull a game-tying score out at the last second, but other offensive weapons do remain, namely Horst. Of course, the Little Dutchmen sport their own tough running attack that should keep this one close. And you know this time A-C will have all the motivation in the world to finish the job.