It's the dawning of a new era for high school football in Pennsylvania. That's because the PIAA voted last October to expand to six classifications and shorten the season by one week at the end.

Districts have the option of playing two scrimmages, or a scrimmage and a game the second week. Since most District 1 and 12 squads chose the latter, football arrives in earnest this weekend.

The early start features a handful of intriguing nonleague games. One of the best is Saturday night's tilt between visiting Perkiomen Valley, which is ranked No. 12 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by the Inquirer, and No. 13 Downingtown West at Kottmeyer Stadium.

Here's a closer look at some of the top contests:

No. 19 Roman Catholic (1-9 last season) at No. 4 Neshaminy (9-4), 7 p.m. Friday. Can quarterback Anthony Butler and the improved Cahillites find a way to upset the offensively talented Redskins at Heartbreak Ridge?


Neshaminy, 28-13.

No. 22 West Catholic (10-5) at Pottsgrove (7-4), 7 p.m. Friday. The Burrs escape the host Falcons on a late touchdown catch by Amadou Barry.

Pick: West Catholic, 26-21.

No. 23 Father Judge (6-5) at Council Rock South (6-4), 7 p.m. Friday. South's defense is focused on slowing dual-threat quarterback Rob King.

Pick: Judge, 21-14.

Frankford (7-5) at No. 16 Pennsbury (9-4), 7 p.m. Friday. The Pioneer's Dom Doyle and Falcons' Dan McShane are new head coaches.

Pick: Pennsbury, 20-13.

No. 12 Perkiomen Valley (9-2) at No. 13 Downingtown West (9-2), 7 p.m. Saturday. The Vikings feature lefty quarterback Stephen Sturm. The Whippets are spurred by shifty halfback Mike Riddick.

Pick: Downingtown West, 36-28.

No. 20 Garnet Valley (7-4) at No. 18 West Chester Rustin (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday. It's the Jaguars' triple-option attack vs. the Golden Knights' wing-T scheme.

Pick: Rustin, 23-21.