Kickoff time!

Football season across the area kicks off Friday, following months of preparation from area athletes and coaches.

The South Piedmont Conference should be competitive, but perennial power house A.L. Brown is again the favorite.

A big question for the Wonders, the defending conference champs after going 7-0 in league play last season, is how quickly they will adjust to new coach Mike Newsome, who arrives in Kannapolis after winning back-to-back 4AA state titles at Butler.

Concord and Cox Mill could find themselves in the running, featuring talented players - including three-year starting quarterbacks - capable of causing problems for opponents. But both teams will have to deal with some inexperience.

How the rest of the league will perform is up in the air.

Northwest Cabarrus, Hickory Ridge and Robinson have young teams after losing key players to graduation, while Mount Pleasant continues to search for consistency at the 3A level. Central Cabarrus is getting better, but they're still searching for a first win since 2007.

On the private school end, Cannon hopes to be more competitive in its second varsity football season while First Assembly, the defending NCISAA Division II champions, will have to regroup after losing its coach, former Carolina Panther Mike Minter, and its top offensive player, running back Michael Minter Jr., only weeks before the season.