The countdown to the 2014 high school football season begins Monday, Aug. 4 when players across Texas hit the practice field.
After four days of working out in pads, players will suit up in full pads for the first time on Friday.
Crockett head coach Jimmy Thompson's troops will report Monday from 8 a.m. until noon with several water breaks during the morning.
Mild summer temperatures are forecast for Thursday and Friday, but by the time players hit the field Monday the typical August heat will be back in force.
"We'll start out on the turf in the stadium and depending on how hot it is, we might move over to our grass practice field for the second half of our workout. It's going to be hot either place, but the grass should make the heat more bearable," said Thompson. "We'll be playing some of our road games on grass this season, so this will give us some experience playing on natural turf."
Thompson said the first week's focus will be on teaching and conditioning.
"We're putting in a new system, so we obviously have to teach them plays. We'll take a lot of time just walking through plays and making sure they understand what we're going to do," said Thompson. "Conditioning is also a priority. We can't go out and die after the first half in our first game."
Approximately 30 athletes participated in a summer speed/strength program and 17 played on the 7-on-7 team that made an impressive showing in the state tournament earlier this month.
"I'm told this was more participation than in the past, but it wasn't as much as we'd hoped for and not as much as we hope it will be next year," said Thompson.
Coach Thompson will gauge his team's progress in their first preseason scrimmage against Elkhart on Friday, Aug. 15 in Driskell Stadium. The Bulldogs wrap up preseason on Thursday, Aug. 21 at Westwood.
"We're excited about getting started with practice. We've already seen some of our athletes participating in our summer program and playing 7-on-7, but until you get them out on the field you don't exactly what you have."
The Grapeland Sandies will hit the practice field at 7 o'clock Monday morning and work out until noon each day through the first week.
"Our focus the first week is to get better. We had a great summer program so just about everyone should be in shape. The ones who aren't in shape will have to catch up to the others," said Sandies head coach Shawn Brown, who is starting his second season at GHS.
The weight room was open six weeks during the summer, and Brown said he was pleased that roughly 25 athletes participated in the program. "That's about double the number we had last year," he noted.
Grapeland hosts Overton for a scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 9 a.m. in Sandies Stadium.
Preseason drills get underway Monday morning at 8 o'clock for the Lovelady Lions.
Workouts will go until noon each day, and head coach Kerry Therwhanger said the schedule would be in place until teacher in-service begins on Monday, Aug. 18.
Before kicking off their season on Friday, Aug. 29 at home against Colmesneil, the Lions will participate in two preseason scrimmages.
The Lions face their first scrimmage opponent at Trinity on Saturday, Aug. 16 and wrap up preseason on Thursday, Aug. 21 at home against Buffalo.