The rollout of the new synthetic turfs in Waukesha may have hit some snags for the opening week of football season, but there is still plenty of action Friday.
Waukesha North will relocate its season opener to Kettle Moraine with the new turf not yet ready for use at North, and North Shore Conference entrant Port Washington will head in to square off with the Northstars. The game marks the debut of new North coach Matt Harris, and North will be tasked with slowing down Port quarterback Ben Schueller, who threw for more than 1,000 yards last year.
North hasn't been to the playoffs since 2006 and will have an uphill battle to get there again in a powerhouse-heavy Classic 8 Conference, but the team does return quarterback Jacob Thode and top receiver Mario Van Schaick.
Waukesha South, coming off a roller-coaster 2013, won't have the chance to debut its turf because of a completely different circumstance. Opening-week opponent Nicolet canceled its varsity season last week, citing a shortage of players. South, which won its first four games last year before injuries and a tough schedule took its toll down the stretch, keeping the Blackshirts out of the playoffs, will host Muskego in the Classic 8 opener Sept. 5 after a road game at Racine Park next weekend.
Waukesha West, meanwhile, will get a chance to show off its new playing surface with a battle against Wisconsin Little Ten entrant Watertown. The Goslings figure to be in their conference title hunt, returning quarterback Casey Schuett, who cleared 1,900 yards passing last year and threw for 22 touchdowns. The school's strong senior class will be a nice test for the Wolverines, who reached Level 4 last year and feature a number of excellent returnees, including defensive players Nick Radloff and Marcus Kelly, as well as quarterback Conor Blount.
Catholic Memorial hits the road in Week 1, visiting Milwaukee Riverside. Last year, the Crusaders downed Riverside, 37-0, en route to an appearance in Level 3 and heartbreaking loss to Monona Grove, the eventual state champion. Memorial, which went 6-1 in conference last year and lost by a mere 12-0 count to eventual Division 1 state champion Arrowhead, will be led by running back Tommy Garza on offense and defensive standouts Sam Gromacki and Mike Wurster. Tight end Mike Schmidt figures to have a huge year, as well.