There were 557 varsity football games played over the past four months, and none were more exciting than the 4A finale at Rice-Eccles Stadium last Friday. Highland's double-overtime win over Mountain Crest on a stuffed two-point conversion will be remembered for years to come.

Enough about football, though, because it's Thanksgiving week. And in Utah, that means it's high school basketball season.

Today marks the beginning of the boys basketball season, and 40 teams are wasting no time tipping things off. Another 26 will play their openers on Wednesday.

It's a quick turnaround with the football season less than 96 hours old, but I'm ready to flip the switch. I love football as much as the next person, but there's intimacy about high school basketball that football can't compete with. If you've ever been to a game at Judge or Olympus, you know what I mean.

Plus, there's a lot more of it. On any given night, Tuesday through Saturday, there's probably a game going on somewhere in a high school gymnasium near you.

A few stories in particular stand out this year, and it starts at the top.

In the Deseret News coaches' 5A preseason poll, seven different teams received first-place votes — nearly a fourth of the classification. Is it too early to get excited about some tournament games at the Dee Events Center?

Also, is it too early for Lone Peak to start making room in the rafters for additional championship and Deseret News Mr. Basketball banners. Whether coach Quincy Lewis likes it or not, his young team begins the season ranked No. 1, and it's obvious why.

Nick Emery, the younger brother of BYU standout Jackson Emery, is coming off a remarkable freshman season in which he averaged 18 points and knocked down 51 3-pointers. It seems an inevitability he'll win a Mr. Basketball award before he graduates, like his brother did.

He'll have competition on his own team, though.

T.J. Haws, the younger brother of BYU's Tyler Haws, will be a freshman for Lone Peak this year, and we already know Lewis isn't afraid to play freshmen. If the Knights are being tabbed as the slight favorite in 5A this year, just imagine how good they'll be in two years.

By no means will this be the year of underclassmen in Utah, though. West's Tyrell Corbin, Brighton's Corbin Miller, Highland's Sam Orchard and Nate Fakahafua, Woods Cross' Austin Bankowski, Box Elder's Brant Mecham and Wasatch's Mike Brown are among numerous seniors who are poised for big seasons.

The excitement begins today, and there are thousands of games between now and March to satisfy any fan.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com