Mater Dei-Carson headlines top openers in south L.A. County

Carson played in the City Section title game last season and is looking for big things in 2011. Alex Gallardo For ESPNLA.com

Get your seat cushions and pom-pons ready, high school football is finally here.

And to get you even more prepared, we present this weekly feature that highlights five must-see games in south Los Angeles County. The opening week -- or zero week -- offers a handful of doozies. Keep in mind that some highly anticipated contests, such as Long Beach Poly at Sacramento Grant, are not included on this list because they are scheduled to take place outside the "L.A. South" boundaries.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Bonita vs. San Dimas at Citrus College, Thursday, 7 p.m. -- This annual battle, locally pegged as the "Smudge Pot," might be as competitive as it has ever been. Bonita is coming off a runner-up finish in the Southeast Division but graduated a deep group of seniors. San Dimas lost to eventual Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia in the semifinals last year and also looks to avenge a 41-20 defeat at the hands of the Bearcats. The Saints lead the all-time head-to-head series, 22-16-1. For more analysis on this game, check out the San Gabriel Valley Tribune's "Two-Minute Drill."

No. 11 Crespi at No. 19 Dominguez, Friday, 7 p.m. -- It's the classic offense versus defense matchup. Despite losing record-breaking quarterback Kenny Stenhouse and top receiver Devin Lucien (UCLA) to graduation, Crespi figures to feature a strong offensive attack. On the other side of things, Dominguez might have the best defense in the area, with highly touted defensive back Brandon Beaver leading the way. The Dons eked out a 14-11 win last season and we might be in for a repeat of that on Friday.

No. 12 Mater Dei at No. 9 Carson, Friday, 7 p.m. -- Carson coach Elijah Asante knows that Mater Dei will be plenty motivated, given that the Colts upset the Monarchs, 14-10, in 2010. Asante's group is the early favorite in the City Section, and a favorable outcome here could validate expectations. Colts fans will get their first opportunity to catch a glimpse of Kevin McMahon, a senior quarterback transfer from South Torrance who Asante has dubbed "The Cannon." A win here gives Carson good momentum heading into difficult games against No. 4 Long Beach Poly, No. 6 Santa Margarita and No. 3 Mission Viejo.

Notre Dame at No. 25 Serra, Friday, 7 p.m. -- Gone are standouts George Farmer (USC), Marqise Lee (USC) and Conner Preston (Southern Methodist). It doesn't end there, though. Cavaliers coach Scott Altenberg must fill a void at nearly every spot, with only five total returning starters. Serra undoubtedly begins a reloading phase, hoping to get back to a CIF State bowl game in the near future. This matchup serves as a solid first test. Can't make it out to Gardena? The game will stream live on FOXSportsWest.com as part of the website's Prep Zone platform.

Covina vs. West Covina at Covina District Field, Saturday, 7 p.m. -- The lone hiccup for West Covina in 2010? A season-opening loss to Covina. How it went down is perhaps even more agonizing for the defending Southeast Division champion Bulldogs. West Covina led 21-2 late in the fourth quarter before Covina scored 25 unanswered points to pull off the improbable comeback. The Bulldogs reeled off 13 consecutive wins and captured the hardware, but the Colts have had area bragging rights for a year.

Don't agree with this list of top games? Does another game deserve more notoriety? Leave a comment on this post or contact ESPNLosAngeles.com preps writer Blair Angulo directly on his Twitter page.