Forget about the years when the high school football season started off slow and worked toward marquee games in October and November.

One look at this week’s season opening games proves 2011 may be anything but your average season.

The list of intriguing games starts Thursday. That’s when Capitol and McKinley square off, continuing one of the metro Baton Rouge area’s oldest rivalries at Memorial Stadium.

Friday’s schedule includes a long list of key games to watch. All games start at 7 p.m.

Class 5A Dutchtown hosts 4A Lutcher in a showdown of established powers.

Zachary travels to Olympia Stadium to meet Catholic High in a rematch of the 2010 season finale. It also matches Catholic coach Dale Weiner against his son, ZHS coach Neil Weiner.

“Capitol is always a big game for us,” McKinley coach Robert Signater said. “Dameion (Mills, first year coach) is a Capitol guy, and I know he carries that sense of pride in the program.

“I know their numbers are down and ours are up, but it’s still a rival game and I understand anything can happen.”

In addition to the Capitol-McKinley game, Belaire hosts St. John-Plaquemine on Thursday at Olympia Stadium.

The Lutcher-Dutchtown and Zachary-Catholic games headline an impressive list of Week 1 matchups in Classes 5A and 4A.

The Zachary-Catholic game is sure to spark plenty of interest. The two teams were District 5-5A rivals a year ago, but with Zachary moving to District 4-5A the teams scheduled a nondistrict season opener.

“You know, I think Neil has said it best: this game isn’t about me or him, it’s about the Broncos and Bears,” Catholic coach Dale Weiner said. “For us, it’s the start of a very challenging schedule.

“Zachary has a lot of talented people back. We’ve got a lot of first-year starters and we’ve had to hold some people out of the scrimmage, jamboree or both. Hopefully, this will be the week we can put it all together.”

The Lutcher at Dutchtown game features some of the state’s top senior prospects. It will also give local fans a closer look at Lutcher, which moves into Baton Rouge’s District 6-4A for the first time.

Dutchtown linebacker-safety Landon Collins is considered to be the state’s top recruit, while running back Daniel Taylor, of Lutcher, begins his fifth year as a starter and is the Bulldogs all-time leading rusher.

“We’re going to face a very formidable opponent,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said. “On defense, everybody they have runs to the ball. They have a lot of speed and athletic ability on both sides of the ball.

“We’re coming off a jamboree night where we missed some assignments and didn’t execute as well as we should have. We’ll need to do better than that this week.”

The list of notable 5A-4A games involving two local teams includes 4A Istrouma at 5A Central, 4A Broadmoor at 5A Denham Springs, 5A Scotlandville at 2A Redemptorist, 4A St. Michael at 5A Walker, 4A Tara at 5A East Ascension, 3A Brusly at 4A Plaquemine and 5A Live Oak at 3A Livonia.

Also notable is Woodlawn at Lafayette High. The 5A game marks the regular-season debut of LHS coach Jay Domengeaux and marks a homecoming of sorts for Woodlawn coach Don Jones, a former University of Louisiana at Lafayette assistant.

In Classes 3A and below, defending Class 3A state champion Parkview Baptist and defending 1A champion White Castle go on the road.

PBS plays at Class 5A Mandeville, while WCHS comes to Baton Rouge to take on 3A Glen Oaks at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.

Northeast, now in Class 2A, hosts 3A East Feliciana in another rivalry game.

The Dunham School travels to Christian Life in a rematch of a South Baton Rouge Jamboree game won by CLA, 14-13.