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Leader of the pack is back for 2013 season

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 1:51 a.m.

It's the start of a new season, and the Leader feels like a new man.

Of course, that feeling comes from the first Friday of the football season giving everyone a fresh start. Every team begins with an 0-0 record, and every team controls their own path to the postseason.

Like the young men who have worked so hard all summer, the Leader wants this to be a memorable season for his picks. He's been studying hard, checking with his insider sources and staying properly hydrated for what is predicted to be a balmy August start to the season.

Week 1 is always the toughest to prepare for — both for the teams on the field and the Leader's picks — because of the lack of past performances to study. But the time for preparation is done, which means it's time for the games and the picks.

Kittanning at Freeport

It's hard to go against history, which is certainly in the Yellowjackets' favor in this series. But Freeport lost 21 players to graduation, and early in the season might be the right time for the Wildcats to catch them.

Kittanning, 28-22

Shady Side at Ford City

Shady Side Academy made it a rough opener for Ford City last year, and this year's Indians are expected to be even better than that team.

Shady Side Academy, 31-10

West Shamokin at Springdale

The Wolves think this is their year, and the Leader is expecting big things from them. Still, Springdale is a perennial playoff team playing at home, so the upset may be too tall of an order. Springdale, 35-20

Apollo-Ridge at N. Catholic

The Eastern Conference title could be on the line in the opener, as two top-10 Class A teams meet. Jesse Zalonka and Tre Tipton will keep the ball moving for A-R, but can they slow the Trojans?

North Catholic, 34-28

Leechburg at Wilkinsburg

A Saturday showdown starts the Blue Devils' season, and the Leader thinks Leechburg will start the season right for the second straight year.

Leechburg, 20-12

St. Mary's at Karns City

These teams meet for the third time in less than a full year. The Gremlins won twice last year, and this year will be no different.

Karns City, 42-21

Keystone at Redbank Valley

The Bulldogs' injury-riddled 2012 began with a road loss to Keystone. Healthy and at home, Redbank starts its turnaround.

Redbank Valley, 21-14

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