The long days of 7-on-7 drills and summer workouts are finally behind us, as the 2018 high school football season is here on the borderland. This season’s talent has been among the best that the city has seen in years and with new changes all across the city, this year is a must watch for high school football action in El Paso.

District 1-6A:

  • Eastwood at Americas - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Andress at Coronado - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Franklin at Rio Rancho Cleveland - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Montwood at Los Fresnos - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Pebble Hills vs. El Dorado - Thursday, 7 p.m. @ SAC
  • Hanks at Socorro - Friday, 7 p.m.

District 1-6A features some big time matchups in week one. Both Montwood and Franklin will put their West Texas spirits on the line against some heavy-hitting teams in Los Fresnos (Texas Regional State Playoff Finalist in 2017) and Rio Rancho Cleveland (Ranked No. 3 in New Mexico), respectively.

Americas will test their young team on the rise against Eastwood on Friday, where head coach Patrick Melton will see how their special weapon sophomore running back Aaron Dumas fares at the varsity level. Coronado will host an impressive Andress team, who is coming for revenge after their 10-3 loss to the Thunderbirds last season.

Socorro will put their 27-game losing streak on the line against Hanks on Friday, where the Bulldogs are vying for their first win in nearly three seasons.

Pebble Hills and El Dorado will kick off the 2018 season for El Paso area teams on Thursday night with an entire new feeling to the rivalry. Pebble Hills returns standout running back Caleb Gerber, who holds a Division I offer from Air Force, among some other interest. Whenever it’s a rivalry game, El Paso football doesn’t disappoint.

District 1-5A Division I:

  • Bel Air at Austin - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Chapin at Midland Christian - Friday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Las Cruces Mayfield at Del Valle - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Eastlake at Canutillo - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Eastwood at Americas - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • El Dorado vs. Pebble Hills - Thursday, 7 p.m. @ SAC

At the start of 2018, we will see just how special the Super 1-5A District can be with its loaded talent. Recently turned 5A program El Dorado will kick off the slate against Pebble Hills in their rivalry matchup under first-year head coach David Telas, who is joining the Aztecs football program from his tenure with Horizon.

Chapin and Del Valle will take on out of town teams in Midland Christian and Las Cruces Mayfield, respectively. Chapin’s entering the season with some of the best defensive talent that the city’s seen in a while, such as Baylor-commit Will Williams, defensive tackle Lama Lavea and ATH Christian McKeever, so their opening game will be interesting to see how they fare against a traditionally strong West Texas team.

On the other hand, Del Valle’s offense looks as strong as its ever been, with the star-studded quarterback-to-receiver tandem of Raymond Montez and Karch Gardiner.

Eastwood and Eastlake will be on missions in their own respects to win their first games against two formidable opponents. Eastwood has firepower on both ends of the ball, such as junior quarterback Christian Castaneda and running back Noah Rios. Eastlake graduated a bunch of seniors last year, but their next-man-up mentality always makes them a threat.

District 1-5A Division II:

  • Eastlake at Canutillo - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Hanks at Socorro - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • El Paso High at Horizon - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Parkland at Burges - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Riverside at San Elizario - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Jefferson at Ysleta - Friday, 7 p.m.

For 1-5A, the Parkland Matadors will be hoping for their best season in program history, with the two top senior prospects in the area, running back Deion Hankins and receiver Khatib Lyles. The Matadors went the furthest of any team in the playoffs last year, and head coach Eric Frontz wants to repeat their success this season. Their first test to see where they stand will be Burges on Friday night.

Another interesting storyline to follow is the Canutillo Eagles under head coach Scott Brooks. He’s spoken highly of the incoming varsity squad, who has dominated at the JV reigns for the past couple seasons. They will take on a tough early season test in Eastlake on Friday, but will be led by their dual threat attack at running back in Carlos Amato and Victor Bustillos.

District 2-5A Division II:

  • Andress at Coronado - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Bel Air at Austin - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Silver City (N.M.) at Bowie - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Parkland at Burges - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • El Paso at Horizon  - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Irvin at Chaparral  - Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Jefferson at Ysleta - Friday, 7 p.m.

Andress is looking revenge in week one against Coronado after their 10-3 loss in 2017, but they’ll have to do it without standout running back Dorian Lewis, who moved to Rio Rancho Cleveland over the offseason. The Eagles will return quarterback Dominique Smith, who possesses strong athleticism, and some skill players in running back Jalen Joseph, safety Jalen Pickens and linebacker Jeff Griffin.

Austin, under head coach Eric Pichardo, will seek their first winning season since 2008 this year in a competitive district schedule. The Panthers bring back 14 players on both ends of the ball and will look to their veteran leadership down the line.

It will be interesting to see how programs like Bowie, Austin, Burges, El Paso and Jefferson compete with one another this year and to see who will reach the playoffs.