Take a full lineup of new and veteran coaches. Mix in a couple new leagues. Layer with scores of great returning players. Add a hearty helping of renewed hopes, iron-willed resolve and community pride.
Those are the basic ingredients of yet another high school football season. Preseason practice – and the distant drone of pounding drums – always signals the countdown to the beginning of a school year. That starts today, with football the first of seven fall high school sports to officially begin.
The first five days of football camp are called “acclimation” days, in which players acclimate themselves to the heat. There is no hitting. Players are limited to T-shirts, shorts, helmets and cleats for two days. Shoulder pads are added on the third day.
Saturday is the first day teams can scrimmage. According to Ohio High School Athletic Association guidelines, players must participate in five required “acclimation” days prior to contact drills, even if that player misses some practice time.
Protecting players from extreme elements is a priority. A new national rule is in place that targets projected heat index. If it’s deemed too high, teams must gear down practice time and tweak on-field activities in other less stressful ways.
Also, weight monitoring – before and after practice – is mandated by the OHSAA. A player must retain 90 percent of his weight after the first practice to get the OK for the next. If not, he sits.
Teams get two scrimmages and a third Jamboree if desired. The Jamboree is a recent creation that allows teams an optional two-quarter dress rehearsal. More important, the $250 host fee pads the OHSAA’s Catastrophic Insurance Fund.
Locally, the five-day Crosstown Showdown kicks off the regular season with two games on Wednesday, Aug. 22. Most area teams will open their 10-week regular seasons on Friday, Aug. 24.
Hamilton, Springfield, Northmont, Wayne, Valley View and Dunbar are in a four-game Showdown feature at Welcome Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 25.
The regular season runs through Saturday, Oct. 27, then the postseason fun begins.
Qualifying is decided by a computer-point formula. These are determined by a combination of wins and wins by a beaten opponent. There are six divisions and four regions each division. The top eight teams in each region advance to Week 11.
It takes five playoff games – or another half season – to win a state championship. That’s what six teams will do when the season concludes with championship weekend at Canton and Massillon on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
On deck: Girls tennis, golf, cross country, soccer, field hockey and volleyball all begin preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 6.