Visit the Aquinas football field during an afternoon practice and you’ll witness the sights and sounds that remind fans that football is back.
Coaches shout words of encouragement or instruction. Players slap teammates’ helmets to get them pumped up for the next play. After a successful play for the Irish offense, coach James Leonard runs into the huddle and barks the next play call.
All are signs that high school football has returned to the Augusta area.
“High school football is the best thing there is and we take it pretty serious around here,” Leonard said.
The area as a whole takes high school football seriously and it returns in full force tonight with the opening week of the regular season. Summer practices, padded camps and scrimmages are done and optimism abounds.
“I have faith in this team this year,” Josey quarterback Dakale Fluellen said of his Eagles. “We got a lot of talent. It just takes work ethic.”
Some of the area’s best programs are hoping for state title runs, including a Thomson team that reached the championship game last season. The Bulldogs open at Laney at 7:30 p.m.
The same applies to South Aiken, which produced a memorable season last year by reaching the state semifinals, and the Thoroughbreds return a heavily-talented group aiming for more. They start tonight at Silver Bluff.
Augusta Prep made major strides the past couple years to develop into a GISA contender, and the Cavaliers have high hopes with a large senior class.
They’re already 1-0 and will look to make it two in a row at Augusta Christian tonight.
North Augusta’s annual matchup with Lakeside tonight, The Augusta Chronicle’s Game of the Week, gives fans a chance to see one of the area’s most dynamic set of skill players for the Yellow Jackets.
No matter the school, every team enters with the optimism that comes with the opening week. It’s been seen and heard across practice fields leading up to tonight’s opening games.
“We had a really good offseason,” Leonard said. “The kids are really focused and dialed in.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.