Early season high school football action hits the national stage Friday night when a pair of powerhouse programs play on Fox Sports 1. John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) hosts Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) at 7 p.m. in a battle between teams fresh off runs to 2012 state title games.
For both squads, the regular-season opener presents an opportunity to gain early momentum under the microscope of a massive audience. It also gives players a chance to showcase their skills in a unique and pressurized setting.
There are several standout athletes to keep an eye on throughout the matchup, from a promising sophomore passer to a group of established senior stars that includes consensus No. 1 wide receiver prospect Malachi Dupre. Here's a guide of who to watch and how their respective collegiate recruitments are shaping up.
All rankings and college offer information provided by 247Sports.
2013 Outlook: The skilled sophomore passer should take on a significant role with the Crusaders while sharing reps with senior Colin McGovern. Jarrett Guarantano is just 15 years old, but his ceiling is extremely high and he could emerge as one of the top northeast quarterback prospects of the 2016 class if he can prove his capabilities this season.
The 6'3", 180-pound dual-threat athlete is the son of former star Rutgers receiver James Guarantano, who is inducted into the university's athletic hall of fame. He is already physically imposing, and could ultimately stand tall in the pocket at 6'5" or 6'6".
College Interest: Rutgers gave Guarantano a verbal offer before his freshman season, according to MaxPreps. He attended summer camp at Penn State this year and 247Sports lists Alabama, Maryland, Auburn and Michigan among interested programs.
What to Watch for Friday: Although Guarantano isn't a full-time starter yet, expect to see him implemented in a variety of packages. Bergen Catholic likes its senior quarterback but the sophomore is too explosive to keep cooped up on the bench.
The future outlook is tremendous for Guarantano and he'll have a chance to get a jumpstart on it Friday night.
2013 Outlook: The 6-foot, 180-pound safety drops the hammer in the defensive backfield and provides impressive run support. He's not a burner but he can keep up with quick receivers because his polished technique.
Mattrell McGraw is a member of a stout John Curtis secondary that stands up to any in the nation. He is considered the 27th-best safety and 18th-best Louisiana prospect in his class, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
College Interest: McGraw must choose between several appealing options at the next level. His offer list includes Arkansas, Arizona State, Miami, Alabama and Ohio State.
According to 247Sports, he currently favors Florida State, UCLA and Oregon.
What to Watch for Friday: Take a look at the way McGraw maneuvers in the box. His pre-snap awareness pays off with big hits along the line of scrimmage.
McGraw will make at least a couple plays in the flat that are worthy of landing on a highlight reel.
2013 Outlook: Overshadowed by a pair of premier senior defenders, Anthony Malaguti is the next man in line for a starring role in Bergen Catholic's defensive attack. The 6'3", 220-pound outside linebacker came on strong during the latter stages of his sophomore season.
Now a junior, expect Malaguti to mature as a run stuffer with added bulk. His speed is above average, which helps him in pass coverage.
College Interest: Malaguti hasn't garnered any offers yet, but several schools have shown interest, according to 247Sports. Penn State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Michigan and UCLA are all listed as teams that have him on their 2015 radar.
What to Watch for Friday: How Malaguti handles the speed of John Curtis' offense will speak volumes about where he is in his progression as a linebacker. He must counter that quickness with intelligence and instincts.
If he gets lost in the shuffle early, his head could be spinning for four quarters. If he stands tall, it would be a defining moment for the young linebacker and go a long way in his recruitment process.
He is dangerous with the ball in his hands and a threat to score on defense and special teams. Alexander, who measures in at 5'10", 180 pounds, is listed as the 39th-best corner in his class in 247Sorts composite rankings.
College Interest: He holds offers from a wide variety of schools that span the BCS map. 247Sports lists Ole Miss, Arkansas, Northwestern and Stanford among his favorites, while Louisville, Nebraska and Ohio State are also keeping close tabs.
What to Watch for Friday: Alexander is an extremely intelligent defensive back and could bait one of Bergen Catholic's quarterbacks into trying to put the ball somewhere they shouldn't. He'll get his hands on the football at least once in this game and if he can secure it, Alexander may be off to the races.
2013 Outlook: Kurt Holuba is a menacing strong-side defensive end that single-handedly dismantles double teams. The 6'4", 240-pound senior surges with great get-off and displays a high motor.
He can bull rush offensive tackles and displays a variety of combo moves that really show off his natural power. Holuba will spend his final season as a Crusader bringing down quarterbacks.
College Interest: Holuba remains uncommitted but has plenty to think about with the decision. He holds offers from Rutgers, Virginia, North Carolina and Syracuse, but 247Sports lists Duke, Florida State, Stanford and Wisconsin among is favorites.
What to Watch for Friday: I want to see how Holuba handles the Patriots' perimeter rushing attack. He can counter runs between the tackles well, but this will test his lateral movement along the sidelines.
It will be important for him to establish space against a nasty John Curtis front line. Look for a battle on every down.
2013 Outlook: Hunter Dale may already be the best component of a dominant defensive backfield. The 6-foot, 180-pound junior is a shutdown coverage safety who strikes fear into receivers with his powerful hitting ability.
He is a dangerous weapon off the outside edge on a blitz. Dale is out to prove he belongs atop the 2015 safety prospect list.
College Interest: It didn't take long for Dale to drum up interest from the college ranks. An outstanding sophomore season helped him warrant offers from Florida, Arizona, Tulane, Arizona State, Miami and Mississippi Sate.
What to Watch for Friday: Dale is a ball hawk in the secondary and he covers ground in a hurry. His range will routinely challenge Bergen Catholic's deep passing game.
2013 Outlook: Garrett Dickerson bookends Bergen Catholic's beastly defensive line with 3-star senior Kurt Holuba. He is a ferocious edge rusher who uses his 6'4" frame to disrupt passing lanes and bat down balls.
Dickerson denies offensive linemen leverage with quick hands and dominates at the point of attack, shedding blocks and darting into the backfield. He also makes an impact on offense as a big-bodied receiver/tight end.
College Interest: Dickerson, rated the 12th-best weak-side defensive end prospect in 247Sports composite rankings, is currently considering offers from Stanford, Michigan, Alabama, Northwestern and Nebraska, among others, per 247Sports.
What to Watch for Friday: Dickerson continues to evolve in pass coverage so keep an eye on how often he drops back from the line or gets set in a stand-up position. Watch his arm speed at the snap to see why he's such a dangerous pass rusher.
2013 Outlook: In a year that features enormous talent in Louisiana, Malachi Dupre may be the most intriguing offensive skill player of the bunch. The versatile 6'3", 190-pound receiver is a dominant pass catcher due in large part to elite leaping ability.
He doesn't give up ground in passing lanes and takes over in the red zone, where he is a matchup nightmare. Dupre is listed as the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2014 class in 247Sports composite rankings.
College Interest: Who wouldn't want a playmaker like Dupre? Schools across the country are lined up for his services, including LSU, UCLA, Clemson, USC and Florida State.
His commitment will be huge for one program.
What to Watch for Friday: Watch it all. When John Curtis is on offense, don't take your eyes off Dupre. He projects as a future college star and potential NFL prospect for a reason.
His route running could use some work but the raw talent is undeniable. Note how he rises over defensive backs and attacks the football at its highest point, adjusting his body as needed.