A new prep football season is less than two months away, and the final days of August mark the start of a new chapter in the Western Big 6 Conference.
That opening weekend on the gridiron marks the debut of Geneseo and Sterling as Big 6 members. The Golden Warriors debut as much on Friday, Aug. 30, with a 7 p.m. home date with Marengo; the following day, the Maple Leafs host Chicago Noble/Bulls in a 5 p.m. Saturday special.
With the schedules for area conferences having been recently released, Geneseo's opener is one of several Saturday dates in the Western Big 6.
Alleman will have two Saturday games, including its Aug. 31 opener against Assumption at Brady Street Stadium (kickoff at 7:30 p.m.); the Pioneers also host conference rival United Township in a Saturday night special on Oct. 5, with kickoff set for 7:45.
Galesburg also has one Saturday game on its slate, traveling to Centralia on Sept. 7 for a 1 p.m. Week 2 matchup.
Speaking of UT, the Panthers inaugurate the Nick Welch head-coaching era on Aug. 30 when they cross the river to take on Davenport West in a 7 p.m. matchup at Brady Street Stadium.
Among the traditional rivalry games to watch in the Big 6, Moline travels to UT on Sept. 27, one week after Geneseo hosts Sterling. In the regular-season finale on Oct. 25, Rock Island takes on Alleman at Augustana College.
In the Three Rivers Conference's Rock Division, Sterling Newman closes the regular season with three straight Saturday games — hosting Orion (Oct. 12) and Fulton (Oct. 26), sandwiched around an Oct. 18 road trip to Riverdale. All games have noon kickoffs.
Among key rivalry matchups, Rockridge meets Sherrard for the first time since 2014 when the two tangle on opening night at the Tigers' Clifford King Field, with kickoff at 7. That will also mark Steve Disler's debut as the Rockets' head coach.
On Sept. 13, Orion hosts Rockridge in a Week 3 matchup at Charger Field. The week prior to that, Erie-Prophetstown travels to Riverdale for a TRAC crossover between geographically close rivals. On Sept. 20, Fulton heads to Morrison for the annual Wooden Shoe Bowl matchup.
Among TRAC Mississippi clubs, Sherrard hosts Erie-Prophetstown on Saturday, Sept. 14 in a 2 p.m. matchup, the first of consecutive Saturday dates for the Tigers, who travel to Peru St. Bede the following week.
In the Lincoln Trail Conference, Ridgewood has its annual Saturday contest on Sept. 28 when it welcomes Mercer County for a 1 p.m. homecoming matchup at Goff-Stahl Field in Cambridge.
That game caps a three-week stretch of key rivalry games for the Golden Eagles, which includes a Sept. 13 home date with Stark County at Aledo's George Pratt Memorial Field and a Sept. 20 trip to Annawan-Wethersfield.