It use to be that high school fall sports teams couldn't touch the practice field with a coach by its side until the second Monday of August.

Pennsylvania high school sports teams don't officially begin practice until the third Monday of August now a days and that pops up this week when everything from football, to golf, to field hockey, to boys and girls soccer, to girls tennis, to cross country, to girls volleyball gets the green light.

Don't believe it for a minute if a coach or athlete tells you the first week will be used for fundamentals and getting in shape.

The summer leagues, camps and voluntary workouts are in the past. Football teams have finished their so called passing scrimmages and 7-on-7 competitions.

It's game time.

The question everyone has been asking is, "Who's going to be the team to beat this year?"

The Anthracite Football League Preseason Poll was released on Thursday and North Schuylkill was the overall favorite, with Marian leading the locals in third behind Shenandoah Valley. The Colts did get one first place vote.

Marian is coming off a 2-8 season, just the fifth losing season in Stan Dakosty's tenure (34 years) as head coach. But if the Colts stay healthy, unlike last season, they could make a return to the post-season playoffs.

Sam Bonner enters his fifth season as head coach at Tamaqua and wants to get his Blue Raiders back on track after they hit a bump in the road with a 3-7 record last year, getting off to a bad start.

Jim Thorpe rebounded with an 8-3 record last season and once again had the No. 1 defense in THE TIMES NEWS Area, something that head coach Mark Rosenberger thrives on every year.

Panther Valley has no where to go but up after finishing with a 1-9 record with its lone win coming over archrival Marian. With new head coach Lon Hazlet taking over it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Lehighton had had four losing seasons in a row and play in a tough Mountain Valley Conference, but with some talent back, head coach George Ebbert is hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Jim Terwilliger turned some heads when he took the Pleasant Valley Bears from a doormat to a challenger in the Mountain Valley Conference in his rookie season. They followed that up going 8-3 last year and making the post-season playoffs and hope to continue this season.

All eyes in the Colonial League are focused on Pen Argyl, who returns almost its entire team, but look for Northern Lehigh to contend in some way after going 13-1 and winning the District 11 AA crown. Gone are some quality players, among them two-time TIMES NEWS Area Football Player of the Year Cody Remaley, who has moved on to Lycoming College this fall.

The Northwestern Tigers finished at an even 5-5 record in Tom Linette's first year at the helm and don't be surprised to see them finish with a better mark this time around.

Palmerton starts a new regime under Chris Walkowiak, its defensive coordinator in recent years, who takes over for Paul McArdle, who resigned after last season. The Bombers are hoping to come in under the radar and surprise a few teams.

Below is a list of pre-season potpourri to wet the football fans appetite:

TAMAQUA

Head coach - Sam Bonner

Practice Schedule - 7:15-10 a.m., 12:15-2:45 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 44

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 vs. Hamburg, 10 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 26 at Pine Grove, 7 p.m.

PANTHER VALLEY

Head coach - Lon Hazlet

Practice Schedule - 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 50, Jr. High 25-30

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 at Panther Valley, 10 a.m.; Thursday, Aug. 25 vs. Jim Thorpe, 7 p.m.

JIM THORPE

Head coach - Mark Rosenberger

Practice Schedule - 7:15 - 10 a.m., 12:15-3 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity - 40

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 at Kutztown, 11 a.m.; Thursday, Aug. 25 at Palmerton, 7 p.m.

MARIAN

Head coach - Stan Dakosty

Practice Schedule - 8:45-10:45 a.m., 12-12:35 p.m., 1:10-3:10 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 60

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 at Northern Lehigh, JV 9:30 a.m., Varsity 10 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 26 vs. Catasauqua and Kutztown, 4 p.m.

LEHIGHTON

Head coach - George Ebbert

Practice Schedule - 8-11 a.m., 3:15-5:45 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades-9-12) 58, Jr. High 50

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug 20 at Springfield Township, 10 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 16 vs. Northern Lehigh (Middle School, 4:30; JV 5:30; Varsity 6 p.m.)

PLEASANT VALLEY

Head coach - Jim Terwilliger

Practice Schedule - 8-10:15 a.m., 12-2:15 p.m ., 7-9:15 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-10) 85

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 vs. Bangor, 10 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 26 - vs. Scranton Prep, 10 a.m.

PALMERTON

Head coach - Chris Walkowiak

Practice Schedule - 7:30-10:30 a.m.; 11:50 a.m.-3 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-10) 48; Junior High 25

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 at Panther Valley, 10 a.m.; Thursday, Aug. 25 vs. Jim Thorpe, 7 p.m.

NORTHERN LEHIGH

Head coach - Joe Tout

Practice Schedule - (first week) 8:15-10:30 p.m., 1-3:30 p.m.; (second week) 7:15-9 a.m., 4-6 p.m.

Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 50; Junior High 30

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 - vs. Marian, JV 9:30 a.m., Varsity 10 a.m.; Friday, Aug. 26 at Lehighton (Middle School, 4:30; JV 5:30; Varsity 6 p.m.)

NORTHWESTERN LEHIGH

Head coach - Tom Linette

Practice schedule - 8-11:15 a.m.; 12-2:30 p.m.

Turnout - (grades 9-12) 50

Scrimmages - Saturday, Aug. 20 - at Pottsville (10 a.m.); Thursday, Aug. 25 - vs. Freedom, 6 p.m.