ELKIN - Football is finally back.
High school teams around the area hit the gridiron tonight to kick off the 2012 season.
Starmount opens its season at home with local rival Mount Airy coming to town.
The teams met in the opening game a year ago with the Rams escaping with a 20-19 victory. Starmount finished the season 11-1, while the Granite Bears powered their way to an 8-4 record.
Senior quarterbacks Samuel Stone and Trey Money lead the four-time defending MVAC champions in a dual-quarterback system, with returning all-conference running back Chaston Martin in the backfield.
Zach Worley and Michael Wood lead the Rams defensively as all-conference linemen a year ago.
Other players to watch include Will Lambert, Hunter Myers and Brian King.
The Buckin’ Elks kick off their season on the road, visiting familiar foe East Montgomery tonight.
The Eagles escaped with a 25-13 win over Elkin in last season’s Week 1-matchup. East finished 6-6 on the year, while the Elks ended 1-9.
Sophomore signal-caller Josh Strickland leads Elkin’s turnaround in his second season under center. Sam Lane, Seth Creed and Jamiles Hayes return as offensive weapons.
Defensively, the Elks will rely on Lane, Mitchell Abbey and Cory Anderson.
Down the road in Ronda, East Wilkes looks to build on last year’s playoff appearance in the 1A state playoffs when they travel to West Davidson tonight.
The Dragons topped the Cards to begin last season 26-14 and finished 3-7. East finished the year at 3-8.
Returning all-conference lineman Chris Greene will anchor the Cardinal defense with fellow seniors Zach Faircloth and Dalton Key.
Offensively, quarterback Zach West returns to lead the attack with Dustyn Verner and Jathan Sales.
In Dobson, Surry Central hosts non-conference power Wilkes Central in a marquee opening-night matchup tonight.
Wilkes blew out the Golden Eagles 48-7 in last season’s meeting en route to a 10-2 season. Surry Central finished 7-4 on the year and reached the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
Reigning Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year Wes Brown anchors the Eagles offensively and defensively. Colby Chilton returns under center after splitting time last year, while Jared Dimmette will be a force at the A-back spot.
Linebacker J.C. Whitt will anchor the defense with Chilton, Dimmette and Luke Haymore.
All games tonight are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.