Stephen Hargis will post updates online and on Twitter throughout the day as he makes his 15th annual tour of prep football teams on the first day the TSSAA allows practice in pads. Follow him as he makes more than a dozen stops at area practices at timesfreepress.com or on his Twitter account @StephenHargis.
It all begins anew. Winter workouts became summer conditioning, which led to 7-on-7 passing camps, and now cleats will dig into dew-soaked practice fields this morning as high school football teams across Tennessee are allowed to put on full pads and prepare for the season's kickoff.
In less than one month a variety of story lines will unfold as the season begins. It's a clean slate for everyone, and the feeling of anticipation is the same for traditional powers such as Boyd-Buchanan, Cleveland, Marion County, Signal Mountain and South Pittsburg as it is for programs with more modest aspirations for the season.
That includes the fledgling program at Sale Creek, which finished its first varsity season winless but has a roster of 30 now, each player having taken part in an offseason strength and conditioning program for the first time.
"That's going to make a world of difference for us," said Sale Creek coach Ron Cox, whose team leaves this morning for a weeklong camp at Fort Bluff Camp near Dayton. "We bought weight equipment and the kids are all leaps and bounds stronger. It was good to see the speed of the varsity game last year, and we had some kids who took that beating and are coming back tougher.
"We worked a lot on attitude and overcoming adversity, too, so the kids won't drop their head whenver something goes against us. We're going to win a few games this year. I'm excited."
The season begins Thursday, Aug. 21, with the first Times Free Press Best of Preps Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium, where Cleveland will play McCallie. Several other area teams take the field the next night for week zero games.
The preparation for the season begins this morning with the chirp of a coach's whistle and the sound of pads clashing.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...