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Staff file photo / Prep football teams across Tennessee returned to practice on Monday following the state's mandatory two-week summer dead period. Teams have begun preparation for the season's kick off, which is less than 40 days away.

Time off — if there actually was such a thing — has officially ended for high school football teams. The TSSAA's dead period — the mandated two weeks in which players were not allowed to be in contact with coaches or hold organized workouts on school property — came to an end on Monday as teams began amping up their conditioning in preparation for a season that kicks off in less than 40 days.

Ooltewah coach Goose Manning, who was named his alma mater's head coach just last week posted across his numerous social media accounts, "Day one. I didn't sleep for one second. I was too excited!"

When the prep football season kicks off — Aug. 20 for most area Tennessee teams — there will be a number of notable changes. Ooltewah is one of nine area programs who made coaching changes since last season, the TSSAA does not expect any crowd limitations or restrictions due to COVID-19, and there were region realignments during the offseason, which means new rivalries will emerge.

Finley Stadium will be the site for both the season's beginning and ending as its hosts the annual Best of Preps preseason jamboree and was awarded the hosting rights for the TSSAA's nine state championship games in December.

Check the Times Free Press for previews on all area teams, top college prospects and more preseason information in the coming days.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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