Football is back.
Those three words, and the sounds of coaches yelling and players grunting, filled the air at high school football fields in Northern Nevada on Monday.
Monday was the first day teams could practice, coinciding with the start of school. Teams cannot put on pads until Thursday. Some teams attended camps earlier this summer.
Optimism abounds early, although a few teams are being mentioned as possible favorites.
Reed, the five-time defending Northern Region champion, will again be a force, although several key players graduated in the spring.
The Raiders have several players eager to take over leadership roles.
“You’ve got to count on your seniors. Those have go to to be the strength of the team,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “Not because juniors and sophomores can’t, but if you’ve got guys you’ve invested four years in, you better be able to lean on those guys. Otherwise, you’re not doing a good job of building your program.”
Reed senior Tre Bussey said it is a new season and the five previous titles are in the past.
“We have to go win another one now,” Bussey said. “We know what we have to do and we are ready to take over.”
Reno, Carson, Damonte Ranch and Galena are also being mentioned as strong contenders this season. But that can all change once games get underway.
The season begins Aug. 26 for many schools, although some could not fill that spot on the schedule. Some will start on Aug. 27 — Galena will play Mesa (Ariz.) at Mackay Stadium that day — and others will not start until Sept. 2.
Schools are limited to 90 minutes a week of full contact for practice.
New this year is that Rollins Stallworth is no longer president of the Northern Nevada Football Coaches Association. Stallworth, who stepped down as the Hug football coach in 2009, is being replaced by longtime Douglas coach Mike Rippee, who stepped down as coach of the Tigers in 2012.
Stallworth will become coordinator of Washoe County School District Activities and Athletics. Brian Rothe stepped down from that position earlier this summer. Stallworth had been president of the NNFCA since 1993.