FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: It’s finally time to play for real

Here’s a look at Friday night’s high school football games:

Santa Maria at Bishop Diego, (SBCC), 7:30 p.m. — The host Cardinals, loaded with experienced players and ranked No. 1 in the CIF Northwest Division preseason poll, open against a Santa Maria team that lost only three starters from last year. Dominque Garrett returns at quarterback for the Saints and Marco Manzo is a talented receiver. Gabe Espinosa takes over as varsity coach after several years coaching lower level teams at Santa Maria. He’ll receive baptism of fire. Bishop Diego has too much firepower on both sides of the ball. The pick: Bishop Diego.


Santa Barbara at St. Joseph, 7 p.m. — The Dons’ defense faces a tough first assignment, trying to contain St. Joseph’s big, strong quarterback Curry Parham. Santa Barbara has lots of  weapons on offense with Cherokee Cunningham at running back, the versatile Eli Hale, wide receivers Jonah Iwanaga and Jordan Guzman. Sophomore Brent Peus is expected to get the starting nod at quarterback. The pick: Santa Barbara.


Dos Pueblos at Santa Ynez, 7 p.m. — The Chargers plan to be more diversified on offense this year, so expect athletic quarterback Leshon Bell to throw the ball more. Santa Ynez QB Brock Dickey has a strong arm; he threw for 1,700 yards last year as a junior. The Pirates have a dangerous player in sophomore running back Austin Vreeland. Santa Ynez has more experience than DP, but Bell will be too much to handle. The pick: Dos Pueblos


San Marcos at Cabrillo (Lompoc High), 7 p.m. — The Royals are stronger, more experienced and have bought in to second-year coach Anthony Linebaugh’s philosophy. A CIF finalist two years ago, Cabrillo looks to rebound after missing the playoffs last year. The Conquistadores’ quarterback, junior Brett Gregory, reminds coach Craig Knowles of Henry Fienga, the rock-solid signal caller who guided the team to the CIF final in 2011. With senior quarterback Wesley Ghan-Gibson and running back Esteban Alfaro leading the way, San Marcos opens the year on a good note: The pick: San Marcos


Carpinteria at Templeton, 7 p.m. — The Warriors will be looking to end a two-game losing streak against the Eagles. Carpinteria has a good group of seniors, led by three-year starting quarterback Ian Craddock, linebacker Kevin Stein and defensive end/receiver Duncan Gordon. Speedy Bryson Frazier is a game-changer at wide receiver. Templeton is rebuilding. The Eagles return four starters from a team that went 7-4. The pick: Carpinteria