BY ED HEDES

Labor day weekend..... for some it marks the end of summer.... for others it means football is back on the local high school scene and the buzz has been hitting a high pitch around THE TIMES NEWS Sports Department.

Seven games kick off the local season tonight to carry us into November and into the post-season playoffs. How more exciting can it get. Plus maybe we won't have to listen to Shawn McFarland, last year's Grid Picks champ, remind us who finished first last year.

Would you expect any more from a Dallas Cowboys fan though?

The first week is always pretty trying for all of us since we haven't been able to get much of a read on some teams just yet. We're all set to go, however, so let's give it a whirl:

TAMAQUA AT JIM THORPE - Terry Moll takes over under center at Jim Thorpe for Corey Cinicola who graduated this past June and he'll get pretty good protection from a giant line up front. The Blue Raiders have some seasoned veterans back and look to set Grif Griffiths loose right off the bat. Should be one of the best games of the night ... Tamaqua, 21-14.

MARIAN AT LEHIGHTON - This is a big opener for both the Colts and Indians and will hopefully answer some of the questions that will tell how good of a season both will have. Tribe looking to get off to a better start than they did last year ... Lehighton, 21-16.

MAHANOY AREA AT PANTHER VALLEY - Young Panthers get to open against what expects to be a pesky bunch of Golden Bears ... Panther Valley, 21-7.

NAZARETH AT PLEASANT VALLEY - Jimmy Terwilliger begins "Year No. 2" at the helm of the Bears and we know they'll be able to score some points. The result lays in the hands of the defense here and the Blue Eagles have some punch ... Nazareth, 35-21.

NOTRE DAME AT NORTHERN LEHIGH - The Bulldogs get to unleash its offense against what they say is an improving Crusaders defense. Have to see it in action before we believe it can stop Remaley, Gill, Kern and Co. ... Northern Lehigh, 39-0.

WILSON AT PALMERTON - Blue Bombers played the Warriors tough for a half last year then faltered. Don't expect that to happen this time around, but until someone beats Wilson, it is the Colonial League favorite ... Wilson, 21-14.

NORTHWESTERN AT SALISBURY - Falcons are supposed to be down this year. The Tigers open up the Tom Linette era ... Northwestern, 21-7.

BANGOR AT SAUCON VALLEY - Slaters will not have Scott "Mr. Everything" LaValva so this game will be a lot closer than expected. We still think the Slaters will win it ... Bangor, 14-7.

PEN ARGYL AT PALISADES - The Green Knights are picked as one of the top teams in the Colonial League this year. Brian Gilbert is gone, but the Pirates are still tough at home ... Palisades, 7-0.

SOUTHERN LEHIGH AT CATASAUQUA - Spartans are looking for respect. Rough Riders are looking for a home win in the opener to springboard their season. Call this an upset if you want ... Catasauqua, 25-21.

FREEDOM AT EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH - The Patriots are supposed to be better, but Ed Christian always seems to get his team ready to play LVC teams ... ES South, 20-14.

POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST AT DIERUFF - Huskies haven't done much on the football field in quite some time. Cardinals have the edge ... Pocono Mt. East, 20-7.

TRI-VALLEY AT SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - The Bulldogs could very well be the favorite here, but the Hurricanes are always ready to play, especially at home ... Schuylkill Haven 21-20.

SHENANDOAH VALLEY AT NORTH SCHUYLKILL - Everyone sees the Spartans as the Anthracite League favorite. So we'll give them a vote here ... North Schuylkill, 28-7.

ALLENTOWN CENTRAL CATHOLIC AT DOWNINGTOWN EAST - Two teams who should be around in their respective classes come post-season playoff time ... Central Catholic, 21-13.