After a summer of conditioning and three weeks of X's and O's preparation, football teams throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties finally get to play a game.

The season begins this weekend with nearly a full menu of action.

Among the most intriguing matchups:

  • A new era begins at Los Gatos when the Wildcats open their season Friday night against Archbishop Mitty at Foothill College. The game will mark the first time since the end of the 1985 season that coach Butch Cattolico isn't calling the shots on the Los Gatos sideline.

    Cattolico announced his retirement at the end of last season and was replaced by Mark Krail, formerly of Santa Clara and Pioneer.

    The coaching change aside, the game matches two of the area's top teams, as Mitty is No. 4 and Los Gatos is No. 9 in the Mercury News top 15.

  • St. Francis turned back the clock this spring with the hiring of coach Greg Calcagno, a former star quarterback at the school and son of the program's legendary coach, Ron Calcagno. Friday at Oak Grove, the Lancers get to show what they've learned under their new leader.

    Both sides should be plenty motivated. St. Francis, the reigning Central Coast Section Division II champion, has lost its past two openers to Oak Grove by a combined three points. Oak Grove is out to prove that it is still an elite team despite graduating key players from last season.

  • Bellarmine College Prep and its opponent Saturday night, El Cerrito, know what a painful defeat feels like. Both watched their 2012 seasons end in heartbreaking fashion -- Bellarmine losing to St. Ignatius 13-10 in overtime in the CCS Open Division title game and El Cerrito falling to Marin Catholic 31-28 on a late field goal in the North Coast Section D-III final.

    Their matchup Saturday at De Anza High in El Sobrante is a chance to get the good vibes pumping for 2013. El Cerrito is already off to a good start, opening its season last week with a 34-14 win at Sutter.

    Follow Darren Sabedra on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrenSabedra.