Today is the first day fall sports teams can open practice according to PIAA rules and all nine TIMES NEWS area football teams took advantage of that with early morning starts.
Football players won't be the only athletes to open camp on Monday as volleyball, field hockey, golf, cross country, boys and girls soccer and girls tennis all get underway.
But the passion that surrounds area football teams is undeniable.
To get area fans ready for the season, the TIMES NEWS has broken down its annual pre-season primer of each team into two parts. Today will focus on Mountain Valley Conference and Colonial League teams, while Tuesday's edition will spotlight the Anthracite League squads. The list includes practice times, varsity turnouts and scrimmage dates and times.
Lehighton's Tom McCarroll, in his second season as head coach, will have to make do without Jacen Nalesnik, who played all over the field for the Indians last season and accounted for 1,317 yards of offense.
Northern Lehigh will also be without its most versatile player this year, as the Bulldogs adjust to life without Caleb Johnson, the 2012 TIMES NEWS Football Player of the Year. A 7-4 season in 2012 will give coach Joe Tout something to work with heading into this year.
Northwestern will look to rebound from a disappointing 3-7 season under coach Josh Snyder and make progress in the highly competitive Colonial League.
Palmerton will also be rebuilding after an 0-10 season in 2012. Coach Chris Walkowiak will be looking to reestablish the Bombers as a threat in the Colonial League.
Pleasant Valley's Brandon Leap threw for 2,164 yards and 22 TDs as a junior, while Austyn Borre ran for 1,278 yards as a freshman last fall. So, offense should not be a problem for Jim Terwilliger whose team which is coming off an 8-4 season and a trip to the District 2-11 subregional semifinals.
Head Coach - Tom McCarroll
Practice Schedule - 8:00-11:00 a.m.; 1:00-4:00 p.m. (Mon.-Wed. and Friday); 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. (Thursday)
Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 43
Scrimmages - Saturday, August 17 at Catasauqua 10 a.m.; Friday, August, 23 vs. Northern Lehigh 6 p.m.
Head Coach - Joe Tout
Practice Schedules - 8:00-10:30 a.m.; 1:30-4:00 p.m.
Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 42
Scrimmages - Saturday, August 17 vs. Marian 10 a.m.; Friday, August 23 at Lehighton 6 p.m.
Head Coach - Josh Snyder
Practice Schedules - 6:00-8:00 a.m.; 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Turnout -Varsity (grades 9-12) 42
Scrimmages - Saturday, August 17 at Pottsville 10 a.m.; Thursday, August 22 vs. Tamaqua 6 p.m.
Head Coach - Chris Walkowiak
Practice Schedules - 7:30-10:30 a.m.; 12:45-2:45 p.m.
Turnout -Varsity (grades 9-12) 49
Scrimmages - Saturday, August 17 at Panther Valley 10 a.m.; Thursday, August 22 vs. Jim Thorpe 7 p.m.
Head Coach - Jim Terwilliger
Practice Schedules - 8:00-10:00 a.m.; 12:00-2:00 p.m.; 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Turnout - Varsity (grades 9-12) 76
Scrimmages - Saturday, August 17 vs. Bagnor 10 a.m.; Friday, August 23 at Scranton Prep 10 a.m.