The wait is almost over. The much-anticipated start to the high school football season is just five days away.

To help get things started, The Californian will unveil it's annual High School Football Preview special section in Thursday's newspaper.

Friday's Week 1 will include seven games in Bakersfield, five more around Kern County and another nine in areas throughout California.

Perhaps the best local game features the area’s two parochial schools, Garces and Bakersfield Christian, in what serves as the debut of first-year Rams coach Paul Golla.

Golla left Bakersfield High to replace A.J. Gass after leading the Drillers to five Central Section Division-I title and a state championship in 14 seasons at the helm. Gass took a job as an assistant with CFL's Edmonton Eskimos in December.

Bakersfield Christian has won the last two season-opening meetings, including a 27-24 victory last season. The rivalry between the two schools was renewed four years ago, with Garces rolling to a 44-21 win in the first game in 2016.

Golla will be one of seven new local head coaches on the sideline on Friday, including former West High and Frontier coach Rich Cornford, who has taken over the reins at Ridgeview. The Wolf Pack play at Stockdale.

Michael Stewart (Bakersfield High), Richard Starrett (Centennial), James Cain (Golden Valley), Kasey Tittlemier (East) and J.D. Thompson (Delano) are also in the first year at their respective schools.

Here’s a list of Friday’s Week 1 games:

In-town

Garces at Bakersfield Christian, 7:30

Independence at South, 7:30

North at Centennial, 7:30

Ridgeview at Stockdale, 7:30

Arvin at Highland, 7:30

Shafter at Mira Monte, 7:30

East at Golden Valley, 7:30

County games

Tehachapi at Wasco, 7:30

Chavez at Delano, 7:30

Foothill at Kennedy, 7:30

Taft at Kern Valley, 7

Road games

Bakersfield at Calabasas, 7

Liberty vs. Paso Robles at Flamson Middle School, 7

Frontier vs. Ventura-St. Bonaventure at Ventura College, 7

West at Tulare-Mission Oak, 7:30

McFarland at Avenal, 7:30

California City at Lindsay, 7:15

Boron at Yermo-Silver Valley, 7

Rosamond at Littlerock, 7

Desert vs. Rowland Heights-Southlands Christian at Diamond Bar, 7

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