Before we can have Friday Night Lights, the young men who play high school football need to get ready for the season.
Actually, most of them have been doing that since the last season ended by lifting weights and/or participating in other sports.
Today, the first official high school football practices will take place. There won't be any hitting going on, rather the early drills are designed more for conditioning and working on formations.
As one veteran coach used to say, "Everyone looks like an all-American in shorts.''
In other words, it's once the hitting starts that separates the contenders from the pretenders.
The great thing about the preseason is that every team is undefeated.
Even those who went winless last year are filled with hopes and dreams that this just might be their year.
And why shouldn't they feel that way?
Who wants to go through two-a-days with the idea of losing?
I always have had great admiration for those who play this violent collision sport where injuries are part of the game.
While every team dreams of winning the state championship, only one in each class will do so, and more often than not, it is going to be one of the traditional powers.
Preseason talk across the Mountain State has the usual suspects -Martinsburg, Capital, Cabell Midland and Morgantown -as being the teams to beat in Class AAA.
And you can't talk about Class AA without first mentioning Wayne, although Keyser is working its way into the conversation.
The small school division - at least for now -looks to be the most competitive with Wahama, Wheeling Central, Williamstown, St. Marys and Buffalo among those in the hunt.
Locally, it will be interesting to see if either or both of Parkersburg's Class AAA high schools can make the playoffs.
Parkersburg High has enough returning skill players and strong special teams performers to be competitive in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
The Big Reds also have made a number of staff changes, including the return of a trio of former state champions.
The keys for PHS will be shoring up the defensive woes that have plagued Parkersburg in recent years and dealing with the situation of likely not having a home field, which is a major obstacle to overcome.
Parkersburg South has a new head coach in Mike Eddy, a proven winner who can build a program. The Patriots lost a great deal of talent from last year's senior class and will be playing a lot of newcomers. How quickly the youngsters develop will determine South's level of success against a rugged schedule.
There will be plenty of time for speculation and anticipation as we lead up to the opening games the weekend of Aug. 29-31.
For now, it's great to begin the transition from the boys of summer to the boys of fall.
Football is back!
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org