Maybe a race can get closer than a three-way tie for second place. That’s how Class 5A, District 13 football ended last season.
Merritt Island took the title and went into the playoffs as the top seed, but Astronaut, Rockledge and Space Coast met at McLarty Stadium to determine the runner-up spot.
The War Eagles won but graduated Favian Upshaw, one of the area’s top quarterbacks. The Mustangs lost seven senior starters on defense in addition to their quarterback.
Vipers coach Kevin Freeman said during the first week of practice that the 2012 race is wide open.
“I think this year is going to be very competitive,” he said. “I think experience wins. We’re so much the same.”
His own team made a late-season surge but lost 23 seniors. Younger players will fill those holes. Freeman had 80 players out in the spring and started last week with 60.
“We have some that saw some playing time,” he said.
* Merritt Island: There have been almost no two-a-day practices in Brevard in years, but in a discussion about FHSAA rules denying them over the first six days of fall camp, Mustangs head coach Jeff McLean talked about the old days.
“I can remember when I first got here, we practiced three times a day,” he said. “You were just getting home and getting comfortable when you had to go back (to practice).”
In addition to a misting station along one fence and a portable water wagon, Mustangs players have summer conditioning to help them beat the heat.
“The kids have been out, working out — most of them — all summer,” McLean said.
* Palm Bay: The Pirates had photo day on Saturday, something the team gets done early in preparation for the season. There were about 50 varsity and junior varsity players in uniform. Palm Bay wore black jerseys and black pants, resembling a style worn by the Atlanta Falcons.
Senior running back Leroy Berry, who made a splash as a ninth-grader in a spring game against Dwyer, said the idea of playing his final year of high school football has already hit him.
“Yeah, but I don’t want to think about it like that,” he said. “I just want to go out and have fun with my team and the rest of my seniors.”
* Holy Trinity: Athletic director Lenny Paoletti and college placement director Allison Bell will conduct a free seminar, “How to Get Recruited to Play College Athletics,” on Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Scott’s Center at the school.