Warm-ups are over and it's time to get serious.
After six of eight Cook Inlet Conference football teams opened the season with nonconference games last weekend, all eight will do battle in league play this weekend.
If last weekend's scoreboards are trustworthy indicators, it's already clear which CIC teams are ready to run away from the pack.
Defending large-school state champion South and 2011 state champion Service, the teams that squared off in the last two state title games, didn't waste time in announcing themselves this season's primary contenders. Each produced laughable wins last weekend, with South steamrolling East 65-6 in the week's only CIC game and Service handing Colony a 52-21 defeat.
Both teams were impressive on offense, with South accumulating nearly 300 yards and Service approaching 400, but opportunistic defenses also put points on the board. Three of South's nine touchdowns came courtesy of defense and special teams, and Service scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery.
Both teams have new starting quarterbacks who proved more than capable. South senior Alec Valdez, who also plays free safety, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass and returned an interception 42-yards for a score. Service senior C.J. Toomer fired four touchdown passes on his way to 222 passing yards.
This is high school football, after all, so anything can happen between now and the state championship game on Oct. 26. Until then, however, all eyes will be on the Wolverines and Cougars, and waiting for a legitimate challenger to those teams to materialize. If that doesn't happen, fans aching for South or Service loss can look forward to Week 6, when the two teams do battle in their regular-season meeting.
East will have a shot at upsetting the order of things Friday, as schedule makers awarded the Thunderbirds the pleasure of beginning their season with back-to-back games against the CIC powerhouses. East and Service will play at 7 p.m., at Anchorage Football Stadium, where South will take on Bartlett Saturday at 7 p.m. Bartlett, which was 0-8 last season, showed signs of improvement in a 21-15 loss to Palmer last week.
In other CIC action, West will visit Chugiak Friday at 7 p.m., and Dimond visits Eagle River at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Chugiak is the only CIC team not named South or Service to own a win thus far -- the Mustangs defeated West Valley 17-6 in a nonconference game last weekend at Tom Huffer Sr. Stadium in Chugiak. West is looking to rebound from a 24-14 loss to Wasilla.
Dimond and Eagle River are both looking to regroup after losses up north in Fairbanks. Lathrop blasted Dimond 24-6 and North Pole trounced Eagle River 40-8.
This weekend's football games
Colony at Soldotna, 6:30 p.m.
Service vs. East, AFS, 7 p.m.
West at Chugiak, 7 p.m.
Palmer at West Valley, 7 p.m.
Kodiak at Homer, 7 p.m.
Kenai at Wasilla, 7 p.m.
Voznesenka vs. Barrow, 1 p.m.
Valdez at Eielson, 1 p.m.
Houston at Skyview, 2 p.m.
Dimond at Eagle River, 4 p.m.
Lathrop at Nikiski, 4 p.m.
Seward at Monroe, 6 p.m.
Sitka at North Pole, 7 p.m.
South vs. Bartlett, AFS, 7 p.m.
Ketchikan at Thunder Mountain, 7 p.m.
Anchorage Daily News