Go here for the Dispatch Pigskin Pickers contest.

The countdown is on.

In less than 10 days, the bands will march, the cheerleaders will cheer and the pads will crack.

High school football season is almost here.

Annually, it's one of the most highly anticipated dates on the local sports calendar. And it will be here before you know it. Opening night is Friday, Aug. 30.

At The York Dispatch, we're here to help you enjoy every moment of the prep gridiron campaign.

It starts with our annual Pigskin Pickers online contest. Many of you are probably familiar with it by now. But if you're not, here's how it works.

First, you need to register for the contest at yorkdispatch.com. If you've played the game before, you're likely already registered. Second, you have to correctly pick the winners of more high school football games this fall than anyone else in the contest.

If you've entered before, you know what to do. If you're a first-time entrant, just click on the contest link and follow the rules. It's pretty simple. Hey, if technology-impaired journalists can do it, you can, too.

Each week you have to pick all the area high school games for that week. At the end of the season, the picker with the most overall correct picks will earn a $100 gift card to Rutter's. The second-place finisher will get a $50 Rutter's gift card, and the third-place finisher will receive a $25 Rutter's gift card. The top finisher each week will also earn a $10 Rutter's gift card. All ties will be broken randomly.


There's one more added benefit. You'll also get to see how you compare with the so-called "experts" here at the Dispatch. Our employees, of course, will not be eligible for any of the prizes.

The Pigskin Pickers contest, however, is just one way the Dispatch will enhance your enjoyment of the high school gridiron season.

Dick VanOlinda, the dean of York County sports reporters, will again anchor our high school football coverage throughout the season. He brings decades of experience to the job. Each Thursday, he'll focus on a game, player or coach in his weekly feature. He'll also provide capsules on each game that weekend, not to mention videos, standings and statistics. And most Fridays he'll cover a game and do a story for our website. On opening night, he'll cover the West York-Central York rivalry.

The Pigskin Pickers will also appear in each Thursday's paper.

Ryan Vandersloot, meanwhile, will again man our weekend scoreboard at yorkdispatch.com, which will include updated football scores as soon as they're available. You can also check him out at twitter.com/yaiaascores. He also has a blog at yaiaascores.wordpress.com/.

In brief, that's our game plan for the 2013 high school football season.

We hope you follow along for the next three months, both in print and online. We also wish you the best of luck in the Pigskin Pickers contest.

The countdown has begun.

And remember, you have to play to win.

-- Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@york dispatch.com.