This may run contrary to my Sept. 7 "Fairfield's no football town" column, but I'm OK with it.
For the first time since I've joined the Fairfield Citizen, there's genuine preseason belief that every high school football team in town will improve.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.
All the yapping and preseason talk is finally over and we get to actually see what each team has to offer. Every coach is positive his team will improve this year, and week one is when we find out where each team is.
On paper there don't seem to be many exhilerating matchups, but as we all know, football's not played on paper. It's played on field-turf, at least around here anyway.
Storylines are abound for all four squads as well. It seems to be put-up or shut-up for the publics. ND's roster has doubled and Prep has huge aspirations.
So we'll start with the Jesuits.
Fairfield Prep (0-0) at Wilbur Cross (0-0), Friday, 4 p.m., Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex.
The Jesuits and Governors met in week three last year, and it was in that game -- a 35-18 Prep rout that was finished over two days -- that the Jesuits broke out offensively. Tom Shea told me Prep had to cut kids from its varsity roster this year, and that this should be his club's best team in his three years as varsity head coach. A 32-21 game scrimmage win over perennial FCIAC power Staples was a good sign.
But Wilbur Cross is the ultimate wild card. The Governors are always athletic and protect their home field. The game is an afternoon start, which likely will deter Prep fans from making the trek. Prep's lucky this is its opening game and emotion will be high, because there's simply more excitement in the air during night games.
But if Prep doesn't win this, it could be a long year. Pick: Prep 34, Wilbur Cross 22.
Darien (0-0) at Fairfield Ludlowe (0-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Taft Field.
This is a big year for Ludlowe. The Falcons are down to just 35 varsity players, have had some preseason injuries, and open with one of the FCIAC's preseason favorites. Not exactly a favorable matchup.
Ludlowe's got some confidence after tasting victory in a preseason scrimmage. Maybe the Falcons have improved. Are they good enough to compete with Darien? I doubt it. Pick: Darien 42, Ludlowe 14.
Where Warde finishes this year is anyone's guess. The Mustangs could be three games, Warde could vie for a playoff spot. I'm guessing somewhere in the middle lies the truth, but again, nobody knows. Pundits had the Mustangs in -- pardon the pun -- "darkhorse" territory a year ago, then they finished 5-5. Maybe Warde's flying below the radar again, but it better figure out how to win close games.
One of my colleagues told me McMahon will have to re-build after a 3-7 2011 campaign. McMahon's running game will be its staple, but I can't see any way Warde loses. Pick: Warde 27, McMahon 12.
ND (0-0) at Weston (0-0), Saturday, 1 p.m., WHS Stadium.
If you believe Dawon Dicks, the Lancers will dress more than 30 varsity players for its opening game at Weston Saturday, a tremendous jump from the 16 or so that suited up for the Lancers a year ago.
Weston was 7-3 in 2011 and was narrowly edged out for a Class S state playoff berth. There are some predicting the Trojans to re-load and take the SWC by surprise. Trojans coach Joe Lato told our sister paper, The Westport News, "Our kids all have to learn different positions on offense and defense and we have to be creative with the way we instruct them."
Does that mean the Lancers have a shot? Not likely. Pick: Weston 40, ND 22.
Year-to-Date record: 0-0.