The 2012 high school football season begins Thursday and Friday. The first three weeks of the season offer the deepest slates of great games of the regular season. There are plenty of quality games outside of the top 10, but here are the best of the best for the first week of the season.
1. Class 6A No. 1 Tulsa Union vs. No. 3 Jenks, Chapman Stadium
It's hard not to just pencil in this game every year as the top game of the season.
It gets old repeating it, but these teams have combined to win every Class 6A championship since 1996.
The series has turned in many classic games, and this year has the potential for the same.
This is the first year that the game has been played to start the season.
2. Class 4A No. 3 Douglass at Class 6A No. 13 Tulsa Washington
This one's about tradition more than anything else.
Trojans-Hornets used to be one of the premier rivalries in the state.
The series resumes after being dormant since 2000 after Douglass coach Willis Alexander and then-Tulsa Washington coach Darrell Hall decided to revive the series when the new district alignments were released.
The teams met in the 2002 playoffs.
It's not just about tradition, though, as both teams feature some of the state's top players, like Douglass' D.J. Ward and Washington's Dominique Alexander.
3. Class 6A No. 4 Edmond Santa Fe at No. 6 Midwest City, Thursday
These were the top 6A teams in the city area a year ago, and there's a good chance they will be again this year.
This time, it's Santa Fe with the star power, including QB Justice Hansen and DB Khari Harding. Midwest City is breaking in a new quarterback and a new coach as Hall returns to the city area to lead the Bombers.
4. Class 5A No. 2 Lawton MacArthur at Class 4A No. 2 Clinton
Both teams have significant questions but high expectations.
One of the first steps toward answering them comes Friday at the Tornado Bowl, one of the best venues in the state.
5. Class 6A No. 2 Broken Arrow at No. 5 Owasso
Coleman Key makes his BA debut against his old team, while the Rams look poised for another run after making the semifinals a year ago.
6. Class 5A No. 3 Tulsa East Central at No. 11 Del City
Del City was just 1-9 last year but returns virtually all of its starters and drops from 6A to 5A. The Eagles' early schedule is brutal, and it starts with OU commit Stanvon Taylor and the Cardinals as they open their first season under coach Bobby Klinck.
7. Class 5A No. 7 Duncan at No. 1 Guthrie
The game would be a big one anyway, as two of the top teams in 5A open the season.
Guthrie, the defending state champion, will be without coach Rafe Watkins for the game as he continues to serve a suspension that helped put the Bluejays back in the playoffs a season ago.
8. Class 3A No. 2 Tuttle at No. 9 Plainview
The end of last season was unusually rough for Tuttle, as it dropped three of its last five, including the playoff opener. The Tigers have high hopes this year with a large crop of returning starters. Plainview was hit hard by graduation but is once again picked to win its district.
9. Class 3A No. 8 Lincoln Christian at No. 4 Seminole
Mike Snyder has been the head coach at Seminole for more than 30 years and once again has the Chieftains in a position to contend for a title. Lincoln Christian has only been in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association for four seasons but has won at least 10 games in each as it opens its first in Class 3A.
10. Class C No. 2 Shattuck at Class B No. 1 Laverne
Shattuck starts the post-Troy Bullard era against another eight-man power.
The teams played for four straight seasons from 2006-2009 with Shattuck winning all four contests.
BY RYAN ABER