Covering and broadcasting High School Football for well over 30 years I still get excited about the opening of a new season and tonight it all begins for the 43 teams that make up the Shore Conference.

What makes football so special is it can set the tone for an entire year as a successful team and season can unify a school and becoming a rallying point for students and faculty. It’s certainly not like it used to be when it seemed like an entire town would pull for the football team.

The truth is many towns have divided loyalties among two or even three schools and of course you have more sports now then in the 60’s and 70’s when it seemed like everyone was involved in the football program in some capacity. I know I’ll sound like so old timer when I say back in the day the stands were filled and in some places if you didn’t get there early you were standing.

That’s a far cry from today where for the most part only the winning teams draw crowds and interest and even some of them play in relative anonymity. However a successful football team can still galvanize a school and community like nothing else.

As the 2012 season gets set to begin a glance around the shore finds that the expected powers this fall will include Red Bank Catholic, Neptune and Manalapan.

Closer to home in Ocean County the general consensus in that the newly realigned “Class A South” division might end up being known as the “black and blue” division. It features geographic and town rivalries and some new faces with defending champion Southern the pre-season favorite over Brick Memorial and Lacey. Toms River North and Jackson Memorial will certainly factor into the title picture along with a young Brick squad and Toms River East and Toms River South should both be improved over last year.

Defending champion Barnegat is clearly the team to beat in “Class B South” but after that it’s a toss-up between Point Boro and Monsignor Donovan. Jackson Liberty, Manchester, Lakewood, Central and Pinelands make for a rather interesting division and there should be some high-scoring battles before this one is decided. The division also features two of the state’s top recruits in University of Virginia-bound offensive lineman Brad Henson from Donovan and Tyrice Beverette of Lakewood, who will play quarterback, safety and anywhere else he’s needed.

The Shore Sports Network will be at Brick Memorial tonight for the Mustangs game with cross-town rival Brick. Kickoff is at 7pm and the game can be heard on 105.7FM and