The beautiful game of football is officially back as teams across the Tennessee Valley got things going with the first official day of fall practices on Monday, including the Huntsville High Panthers and the Bob Jones Patriots.
"We've got a long ways to go, but the effort was good we came out here ready to go we practiced for I guess about an hour and 30 minutes that they're supposed to let us practice so we got it in and covered the kicking game, offense and defense, so for the first day we got that in but we've got a long way to go," said Mark Fleetwood, Huntsville's head football coach.
The Panthers are getting ready for the upcoming season and they kick off their season against Decatur on Thursday, August 22. Despite having their first game on a Thursday instead of under the Friday night lights, Fleetwood says that doesn't change their preparation for the game at all.
"Decatur's a big rival I think this is coming up on the 89th or 90th meeting between the two schools so a lot of tradition and it's an old time rival," Fleetwood said. "The challenge is big in the first game for us and I really look forward to it I look forward to the practice up to the time of the preparation. There seems to be a sense of urgency about what we're doing."
The Bob Jones Patriots also kicked off fall practice bright and early Monday morning. The Patriots start their season against Christian Brothers in Memphis on August 23.
Head coach Kevin Rose says overall he's impressed with the returning players and how they're starting to lead the team into the upcoming season, but he thinks some of the younger guys need to step up as well.
"I think we've got some kids who have been winners all the way through seventh grade and some good kids and experienced kids and I think they'll do a good job leading this football team," Rose said. "We've just gotta have some younger kids, tenth graders especially, step in and play a role when you go from ninth grade football in 7A football that's a tough adjustment."
Rose said overall the first day of practice was a good one, but they still have a lot of work to do before the regular season kicks off.
"Fall practice the first day you get out here and the kids are excited, we're excited, we've been away from it for several months and there's just a lot of enthusiasm," Rose said. "I think we've gotta get better as a football team in points allowed. I think we had too many points allowed last year, whether that was from a defensive laps, a turnover, a special teams whatever all three phases of the game we've got hold our opponents to a lower number."