Students cheering, bands playing, cheerleaders, spirit squads and of course the football teams all take the field this weekend as the new high school season gets underway from Manahawkin to Aberdeen.

The Shore Conference is made up of 43 football-playing schools and all but 11 open this weekend even though it’s officially week zero.

In most years the weather concern on this date would be heat and humidity but not this time around as rain and wind could be a problem for some of the 15 games on the schedule tonight.  Tomorrow looks much better for the few games that will be played as well as the Monmouth University home opener against Lafayette.

In order to help insure a more competitive balance as well as improve state playoff positioning the Shore Conference has once again realigned its seven divisions.  The result is a loaded American Division which features six of the top seven teams in the Shore Sports Network preseason top ten with four of them to collide on opening night.

Top ranked Red Bank Catholic, coming off a perfect 10-0 season that included a state title will host #4 Rumson, who won their fifth state sectional crown in the last six years.  Also tonight sixth ranked Manalapan heads to #7 Middletown South in what is the Jersey Mike’s Game of the Week on the Shore Sports Network with live coverage to begin at 6:45 p.m.

The division also includes #3 Long Branch and fifth-ranked Toms River North with the Mariners to visit Cherry Hill West tonight.

Among tonight’s other season openers, Jackson Memorial visits Brick Memorial, Point Boro hosts Barnegat, Toms River East is at Howell, Southern entertains Nottingham, Manchester is home against Robbinsville and Manville visits Point Beach where Joe Zaccone makes his head coaching debut with the Garnett Gulls.

Players to watch in Ocean County include Jake Kazanowsky and Dominick Jacob of Toms River North, Ryan Clark of Donovan Catholic,, Jackson Memorial’s Collin McCarthy and Frankie Giannetti of Toms River East just to name a few.

For predictions on this weekend’s season openers visit shoresportsnetwork.com.