MONTEGO BAY, St James — Three former champions with a combined 13 liens on the ISSA/LIME Ben Francis Knock-out trophy will kick off their campaign this afternoon with seven games at six venues.
Six-time champions Glenmuir High, four-time winners Rusea's High, and Clarendon College with three victories will join 11 other schools, including first-timers Green Pond High from Zone A, as they seek a place in the final set for October 26, when the season's first schoolboy football trophy will be decided.
Today's winners will advance to Saturday's second round where they will be joined by three-time defending champions St Elizabeth Technical, who drew a bye through the first round and will face the winners of today's game between Glenmuir High and Kemps Hill High.
Today's schedule will also see two repeat match-ups from last year — St Mary Technical against Dinthill Technical, and Paul Bogle High against Port Antonio High.
Rusea's, who last won the title in 1996 and who missed last season's competition, will face a Godfrey Stewart team that is playing in the Knock-out for the first time since the 2008 season, in what should be a close game in the second leg of a double header at Jarrett Park.
Rusea's struggled this year in Zone B and only booked their spot on the final day of the regular season and will depend on Tavan Barnes, who has scored 11 goals this season to lead the charge against a Godfrey Stewart defence that did not give up a goal in the entire return round.
Clarendon College cruised through the competition until Saturday's final day when they were edged 1-0 by Lennon High, then lost six points after they were found to have used an ineligible player in two games. They will face a confident Marcus Garvey Technical at the Juici Beef Complex for the right to advance to the second round.
Clarendon College will seek to get over the series of setbacks but will need to find a way past a confident Marcus Garvey Technical, who confirmed their place after a 1-0 win over Cedric Titus High on Monday.
Glenmuir High face a dangerous Kemps Hill team at Jamalco, but are coming off the best showing of the season, a 5-1 win over Bustamante, matching their previous output in their previous five games.
Glenmuir High could be short of match practice with just six games in five weeks and if they win today would go up against a well-oiled STETHS team in Santa Cruz.
Manchester High have been impressive all season and will be hoping to make it back to the semis-finals as they did last year and will face Christiana at Kirkvine in what could be the best match-up of the day.
Manchester High will take on, arguably the best defence in the competition, having given up a miserly one goal all season, and that came in their opening game, a 1-1 draw against BB Coke.
St Mary Technical had beaten Dinthill Technical on penalty kicks also at Highgate and today's game will pit St Mary's high-scoring offence (25 goals) against Dinthill's stingy defence, having given up a single goal so far.
Paul Bogle will look to beat Port Antonio High again for the second year running and are coming off a massive 11-0 thrashing of hapless Robert Lightbourne in the final Zone O game on Saturday.
Green Pond will be hoping for a winning debut after beating former daCosta Cup and Ben Francis KO champions Cornwall College and St James High in back-to-back games to extend their winning streak to six straight.
William Knibb will be hoping for a second first-round upset after beating Cornwall College at Jarrett Park on penalty kicks last year. And after knocking off Spot Valley 3-0 on Saturday to win their zone — scoring nine goals in the last three games — will come into the game full of confidence.