Imagine taking a major test on the first day of school, flying a filled jumbo jet after just getting a pilot’s license or performing a major surgery days after earning a medical degree.
OK, maybe this isn’t quite as serious. But for coach Doug Dahms and the Wilson football team, taking on perennial District 3 power Central Dauphin on opening night is a pretty daunting task.
Throw in the fact that Wilson will face backyard rival and defending District 3 Class 5A champion Gov. Mifflin the following week, and it’s a tough way to start the season for a football team trying to form an identity.
“We’ve always started with tough games.” Dahms said. “It’s a good measuring stick to find out where you’re at right away.”
The Central Dauphin at Wilson game is one of 13 involving Berks County teams on the opening night of the high school football season with fans looking forward to returning after many were held away last season due to crowd limitations imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Other teams face daunting challenges as well, but ready or not, the season starts Friday.
It opens at 5 p.m. when Berks Catholic kicks of the season with a home game against Executive Education.
In the only game involving two Berks teams, two-time defending District 3 Class 3A champion and 2020 PIAA runner-up Wyomissing visits Daniel Boone.
Two head coaches will make their debuts at new schools on Friday.
After a successful stint at Lancaster Catholic, Bruce Harbach will coach his first game for Schuylkiill Valley at Springfield-Delco. At Twin Valley, former offensive coordinator Kris Olsen will make his head coaching debut at home against Garden Spot.
Jeff Chillot, who moved up Route 61 from Schuylkill Valley to Hamburg, will wait a day to make his debut when the Hawks play at York Vo-Tech in the only Saturday game involving a Berks team.
A veteran Exeter team may face one of the biggest challenges on opening night. The Eagles will host 2020 PIAA 6A runner-up Central York.
Central York, led by Penn State quarterback recruit Beau Pribula, won the District 3 6A title last season, defeating Central Dauphin 42-15 in the semifinals.
York High, which lost to Central York in the District 3 Class 6A championship game, will host another Penn State recruit in Gov. Mifflin running back Nick Singleton.
Singleton has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Gov. Mifflin. He opens his
senior year with 3,768 yards, 1,010 yards shy of the Berks career record.
Wilson fans will be interested in the outcomes of both those games since the Bulldogs play Gov. Mifflin next week and Exeter in Week 3. But Friday night, the total focus for Dahms and his team will be on Central Dauphin.
“There’s only one team that can beat us this week.” Dahms said.
Coming off a 6-1 COVID-shortened season, Wilson looks to replace its quarterback, most of the offensive line and half of its receiving corps.
Brad Hoffman, a transfer from Berks Catholic, is expected to start at quarterback and line up with Jaydn Jones in the backfield.
Dahms said he gave the entire team a C+ after its scrimmage Saturday with Coatesville.
“A lot of things we need to get better at,” Dahms said. “There are a lot of mistakes to correct.”
The Bulldogs, the defending Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 champions, usually find a way. They have put together 45 consecutive winning seasons, the longest streak in the state.
Wilson has won seven District 3 titles, the last in 2016. Central Dauphin has won four District 3 championships, the most recent in 2019.
“We’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Dahms said. “They’ll get a good test this week.”
Week 1 schedule
Executive Education at Berks Catholic, 5 p.m.
Wyomissing at Daniel Boone, 7 p.m.
Central Dauphin at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Gov. Mifflin at York High, 7 p.m.
Central York at Exeter, 7 p.m.
McCaskey at Reading High, 7 p.m.
Muhlenberg at Ephrata, 7 p.m.
Garden Spot at Twin Valley, 7 p.m.
Conrad Weiser at Cocalico, 7 p.m.
Fleetwood at West Chester Henderson, 7 p.m.
Kutztown at Shenandoah Valley, 7 p.m.
Schuylkill Valley at Springfield-Delco, 7 p.m.
Boyertown at Upper Perkiomen, 7 p.m.
Hamburg at York Tech, 1 p.m.
Source: Berkshire mont